GAPA marks maiden edition of International Albinism Awareness Day
The plight of persons with albinism has over the years been shrouded in secrecy. Persons with Albinism all over the world have suffered various forms of discrimination and injustice, and many have wondered when the world’s attention will be drawn to the challenges that Persons with Albinism are confronted with on a daily basis.
For those living with the condition, it came as pleasant news late last year, when the United Nations’ General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing June 13th as International Albinism Awareness Day.
Persons with Albinism in Ghana are, therefore, over-joyed by such a historic resolution of global focus on albinism advocacy.
In marking this day, the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism (GAPA) initiated various activities to commemorate the IAAD.
The Ghana version of the International Albinism Awareness Day started with walk through the principal streets of Accra after which participants gathered at the Accra Rehabilitation Centre.
The National President of GAPA, Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah in a welcome address said the day was significant as it has now afforded persons living with albinism, the opportunity to push for their rights and dignity in society. “My perspective is mostly informed by personal experience, having grown up as a PWA in a society where public response to albinism ranges from latent discrimination to outright murder for ritual purposes.” She emphasized.
She noted that “persons with albinism are at risk of social isolation,” adding that albinism is often a source of mockery, ridicule, discrimination, name-calling, prejudice, and in some cases fear and violence.
According to her, GAPA aims to challenge the negative myths and promote the welfare of persons with albinism, so that PWAs can take their rightful place in society and enjoy their human rights.
Chairperson for the Convention People’s Party, Samia Nkrumah, speaking as a Guest Speaker urged members of GAPA to connect and network to form a strong unified front to fight for their course.
She expressed worried about the level of “injustice” suffered by persons living with albinism, and called for a legislation to protect the rights and dignity to persons living with albinism.
Ms Nkrumah also urged members of the association to take education seriously in order to stand tall among their peers, and win the fight against discrimination and injustice.
Dermatologist, Dr Aryee-Boi, who educated members of GAPA on how to care for their skin, advised Persons with Albinism to avoid direct contact with the sun.
According to her the ultra violet rays (UVR) emitted by the sun can cause their skin to burn, resulting in skin cancer.
She entreated them to wear long clothes to cover their hands and legs, and wear sun glasses with wide brimmed sun hats.
Dr Aryee-Boi also urged members to use sun protection creams to further prevent sun burn.
Founded in 2003, the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism currently boast of 1,470 members, and has grown over the past years chalking success in sensitizing the public on albinism through lectures and radio and TV talk shows.
GAPA has implemented a project dubbed: “People First Language” (PFL), which represents more respectful and accurate ways of communicating.
The association has also initiated “Care for Your Skin Project,” which advocates for sun care products to help all persons with albinism to protect their skins from the deadly skin cancer and black-spots as a result of sun burn.
The seven-executive members of GAPA are now working on having functioning branches in all 10 region of Ghana.