Cancer: Foundation urges albinos to stay away from sun

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A Non-Governmental Organisation, the Albino Foundation has urged people living with albinism to stay away from the sun to avoid developing skin cancer. The foundation noted that people with albinism are prone to skin cancer, stressing that the sun had been identified as a major risk factor for developing skin cancer.

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Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, Jake Epelle, disclosed this in his message in commemoration of the 2023 International Albinism Awareness Day with the theme, ‘Inclusion is Strength.’

International Albinism Awareness Day is celebrated annually on June 13 in recognition of the human rights of persons with albinism worldwide.

According to the United Nations, this year’s theme, “Inclusion is Strength,” builds on last year’s theme of ‘United in making our voice heard’.

The theme emphasises the importance of the inclusion of a diversity of groups from both within and outside the albinism community.

In his message, Epelle noted that the best way an albino can prevent skin cancer is to stay away from the sun.

According to him, “Please stay away from the sun. Don’t expose yourself to the sun.  Wear your long sleeve, your hat and ensure to run away from the sun. People would say, well I wear sunscreen.  But sunscreen can’t help you that much. In just 10 minutes, the effects will go away and if you don’t reapply, you become vulnerable. Also, the government needs to be involved by equipping the hospitals to manage people with skin cancer. The state government should create a vote for people with albinism.”

The UN says albinism is a genetic condition inherited from both parents and that it occurs worldwide, regardless of ethnicity or gender.

“The common lack of melanin pigment in the hair, skin and eyes of people with albinism causes vulnerability to sun exposure, which can lead to skin cancer and severe visual impairment. As many as 1 in 5,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa and 1 in 20,000 people in Europe and North America have albinism. In some countries, people with albinism suffer discrimination, poverty, stigma, violence and even killings”, the UN stated.

Epelle however called on the Federal government to resuscitate the free cancer treatment programme for persons with albinism, noting that albinos suffering from skin cancer have been unable to handle the treatment.