International Albinism Day was decreed by the UN every 13 June to fight against discrimination against people with this condition. It is also an opportunity to inform the public and raise awareness about albinism.
Albinism is a rare, non-contagious and hereditary condition that exists worldwide, regardless of ethnicity or gender. In almost all cases of albinism, both parents must carry the gene to pass it on, even if they do not have albinism themselves.
Albinism is caused by a lack of pigmentation (melamine) in the hair, skin and eyes, and there is currently no cure. In addition, people with albinism are extremely vulnerable to skin cancer. In some countries, the majority of people with albinism die of skin cancer between the ages of 30 and 40.
A disease more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa
But skin cancer is highly preventable when people with albinism can fully exercise their right to health, which includes access to regular health checks, sunscreen, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing. However, in many countries, these means are not available or are inaccessible to them. It should also be noted that the prevalence of albinism varies around the world. In Europe and North America, 1 in 20,000 people suffer from the disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that between 1 in 5,000 and 1 in 15,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from albinism, where the condition is more prevalent.
Due to a lack of melanin in the skin and eyes, people with albinism also often have permanent visual impairment which often leads to disability. They are also discriminated against because of their skin colour.
The term « person with albinism » is preferable to « albino ».
Thus, education and awareness-raising campaigns can help combat the superstitions and stigma associated with albinism. The term « person with albinism » is preferable to the term « albino », which is often used with a pejorative connotation.
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Decreed by the UN on 13 June each year, International Albinism Day is an opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss the subject together, as Annie Mokto, president of the Belgium-based association Ecran total, which fights for the protection of people with albinism, tells us. « International Albinism Day is a reminder of the discrimination that albinos have suffered and continue to suffer. It is a way to take stock and, above all, to create hope, » explains Annie Mokto.
In addition, this day is also the initiative of projects such as that of Adrienne Ntankeu, president of the association Anida, which fights against discrimination against people with albinism, who organised a fashion show in Yaoundé, Cameroon. All these initiatives, among others, have a common goal: the valorisation of people with albinism and the raising of awareness about their living conditions and the discrimination they suffer.