OAM Advocates End to Stigmatisation of Albinos

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Cross section of people living with albinism with Executive Director, OAM, Mrs Rita Okagbare (m)
  • Empowers them with 50 Eye Glasses

Martins Ifijeh

The Onome Akinlolu Majaro (OAM) Foundation has called on Nigerians to stop stigmatising people living with albinism, stressing that the condition is not a disease but only a genetic disorder.

Speaking during presentation of 50 eye glasses and frames to Albinos at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) recently, the Executive Director OAM, Mrs. Rita Okagbare, said it was high time people stop discriminating against albinos even in marriages and relationships.
She called for continuous awareness programmes as a way to end stigmatisation.

Okagbare said while OAM would continue to educate, advocate and empower albinos in the country, the major challenge of the organisation was financial issues, as they have more to give to the special Nigerians, but limited. “We call on the government, organisations and individual for support,” she added.

Head of Department, Ophthalmology, LUTH, Prof. Adeola Onakoya, on her part explained that people living with albinism were having sight problems due to the arrangement of their nerves, adding that their eyes can be corrected by giving glasses or low visual aids, but not surgery.

“People living with albinism are peculiar. The way God made them, the arrangement of the nerves that helps with seeing in them is slightly different and that’s one of the reason why they have poor vision.

“Some of them have no issues with vision. But often times we advise very light skinned children to come to the hospital for examination. For those who are severely visually impaired, we can still improve their visiona bit, not with surgery, but by giving them glasses or through low visual aids to aid them,” she said.

The Head of Department, Dermatology, LUTH, Dr. Olusola Ayanlowo emphasised on proper education for parents so they don’t expose their children to sunlight in order to avoid skin burn which may cause cancer.

“The skin problem with albinos is still all about the sun. The melanin protect the skin from hazards of the sun but people with albinism have a very low or complete absence of the pigment. So when they get exposed to sun light, they have damages on their skin and the eyes.

“Parents need to know that their albino children are normal and can have challenges of the skin. So as soon as they are born, they should desist from exposing them to the sun. Teachers should be educated as well.

“They shouldn’t wear clothes that exposes their body. They should adopt clothes like long sleeve, turtle neck, long skirt, wide hats, as well as use umbrellas (not just for the rains, but the sun most importantly.”

She called on the government to assist in combating stigma, adding that “albinism is compatible with normal life span and intelligence. We have them in different fields.”