Albinism community calls for government subsidised sunscreen lotions

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By Alois Vinga

The Albinism Community in Zimbabwe has urged the government to avail subsidised sunscreen lotions as a means to protect members from possible cancer and related ailments.

Speaking to Saturday on the sidelines of the International Albinism Awareness Day, Zimbabwe Albino Association (ZIMAS) project officer, Kudakwashe Maxhiha said there was need to adopt international best practices.

“We call upon the government to add sunscreen lotions and other associated medicines on the essential drugs list,” he said.

“They must also be produced locally and distributed free of charge. Regionally, countries like Namibia and South Africa have since adopted such practices.”

Maxhiha said most persons with albinism in the country were prone to cancers as they cannot afford the sunscreen lotions which are currently costing between US$15 to US$20 per bottle.

“We acknowledge that the government has been assisting the albinism community but not to the expected extent.

“Recently, they started a pilot programme where they just assisted one province, but we want this to be national,” Maxhila said.

He said the community continued to face other social challenges such as stigmatisation with many struggling to secure marital partners because of existing socio-cultural beliefs.

“We also face economic challenges because companies are not willing to employ us as they see us as weak,” he said.

The United Nations set aside the 13th of June every year as a day to enlighten society about persons with albinism as well as promoting their rights.

Ahead of the 2020 commemorations, Amnesty International has called on governments the world over to pay attention to persons with albinism whose lives are at a higher risk during the Covid-19 lockdown periods being implemented the world over.

“Authorities must ensure that measures to respond to Covid-19 are inclusive of the specific needs of persons with albinism, including provision of sunscreen lotions, enabling access to information, increasing community policing and improving access to social protection in order to maintain their health, safety, dignity, and independence during and post the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the organisation.