Uganda has launched a National Action Plan for Albinism with calls for extensive public sensitization to dispel misconceptions and biases surrounding persons with albinism.
“Our big ask today is to support the National Action Plan. You may not have 1 million dollars but you can join us in creating awareness and sensitize more people about albinism,” the minister in charge of disability, Ms Hellen Grace Asamo said at the Plan’s launch in an event to commemorate International Albinism Awareness Day, at the Mayor’s Gardens in Lira City.
The five-year plan seeks to promote and protect the human rights and eliminate the violations inflicted on Uganda’s estimated more than 20,000 persons with albinism, including discrimination and stigma.
“The fight for recognition for your rights starts with you as an individual. It does not need another person to talk for your rights,” she said on Monday.
The minister also informed that government has instituted a special grant to fund projects of people born with the disorder characterized by lack of melanin pigment in the skin.
“We always ask people aged 5-15 to make a group and be able to get at least Shs5million as a maximum,” Ms Asamo noted at the commemoration that started with a march around the city amid blood donation.
People with albinism are usually visually impaired and are highly predisposed to suffering from skin cancer due to vulnerability to the sun and bright light
Ms Olive Namutebi, the executive director Albinism Umbrella, an advocacy non-governmental organization for persons with albinism and disability, further explained that “the genetic condition is inherited from gene carrying parents even if they do not have albinism themselves.”
She welcomed the Plan as a step in the right direction towards addressing the misconceptions that have persisted through the years.
“Over the years, we have seen significant efforts being made towards addressing discrimination against persons with albinism. But one of the big milestones as we celebrate this day is that the Disability Act 2020 fully recongises persons with albinism,” she echoed.
But for UN Human Rights country representative Mr Robert Kotchani, “there is need for key stakeholders within the public and private sectors to collaborate in ensuring the effective implementation of the Plan.”
The UN June 12 observed that erroneous beliefs and myths, heavily influenced by superstition, put the security and lives of persons with albinism at constant risk.