Fr. Ogwal of Moroto Diocese says even Noah was a person with albinism but that did not stop him from being the most key person in the society.
By Christine Awor
Lira—3, December 2021: Lira Resident City Commissioner (RCC) Lawrence Egole has reprimanded all those who undertook persons with albinism.
Egole came up with this on Monday, November 30 during a presentation of the spatial mapping and profiling of persons with albinism, annual report and research carried out in the three regions of Uganda.
In the research done in central, western and northern Uganda in 2020, it was observed that 50% of persons with albinism (PWA) of school going ages dropped out of school because of segregation, long distance and negligence from their biological fathers.
In that same research, 43.5% of PWA don’t access various government services and also, report says they suffer trauma because of the myths and misconceptions the society has on them.
At the event were religious leaders, medical personnel, PWDs representatives from all over Uganda and other local government leaders.
Olive Namutebi, the chief executive officer Albinism Umbrella decries high level of myths and misconceptions in the society that has for long deprived PWA.
Namutebi says some myths are: PWA brings wealth when used for sacrifice, they don’t grow old; they don’t get malaria and eat some foods; they are related to the Whites and also they bring misfortunes. “… and a lot more of biases that needs a big effort and sensitization to fight it off the minds of the society.”
Community Development Officer of Gulu who represents Persons with Disabilities and Elderly to Gulu district local government Anna Grace Akot says in her community, some parents beat up these children whenever they cannot do house chores, cook and go to garden.
Akot reiterates that because of this condition, most families are having a lot of domestic violence because the biological fathers tend to deny them because of the myths they have.
Speaking as a panelist at the function, Fr. Joseph Ogwang of Moroto Diocese appeals to various Church leaders to ensure they preach love and societal inclusion of persons with albinism in their various Churches.
“I urge all religious leaders to always talk about persons with albinism during their various engagements for better inclusion in a society,” he appealed.
Alluding to the Bible, Fr. Ogwal says even Noah was a person with albinism but that did not stop him from being the most key person in the society.
He further enticed the society to desist from the mysteries they have about each other.
Christine Anono, the community development officer of Lira urged various stakeholders and opinion leaders to always preach about this group of people because they are very key in the society.
She appeals to the various district leaders to always consider PWA when they apply for opportunities they qualify for.
“Various stakeholders at various ministries should wake up and not only leave what they say in writing but see that they are fully implemented,” she emphasized.
After hearing what PWA are going through, Lira RCC promised to stand up for the rights of PWAs at all cost.
“Whenever you feel you need anything, do not hesitate to contact me at any time,” Egole opened his contact lines, urging different stakeholders to ensure these children are treated fairly at school.
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District Education Officer of Nebbi, James Gwotho urged officials at the Ministry of Education and Sports to ensure the needs for persons with albinism is included in the curriculum.
“You find that when you go to schools, most children tend to over segregate about these children, they do not share desks with them and sometimes touching their skins to find out if they are humans. This is all because we lack awareness as a community.”
William Onyayi is the District Health Educator of Gulu. He urged everyone not to segregate PWA.
According to Oyangi, this is just a genetic mutation that affect the production of a pigment called melanin and “here is a cell called the melanocyte that gives skin, hair, and eyes pigmentation.”
He said in albinism; the melanocytes are present, but genetic mutations interfere with their pigment production or their ability to distribute it to keratinocyte, the major cell type comprising the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin.
“These are human beings like us, they just have a little pigment missing in their skins which is why they are like that,” he taught people at the event.
Parents and families having these persons should always ensure they have sunscreens and caps to help them against the scorching sunshine to avoid complications like cancer, he gave advice.
What has been done?
Laws protecting PWA from threat of harm or discrimination have been developed both locally and globally. In addition, the government of Uganda initiated a startup grant for people with disability as a way of mitigating the socio-economic divide. An attempt has been made to profile all PWA in Uganda.