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'Demystify' Albinism and End Discrimination, Says UN Chief

'Demystify' Albinism and End Discrimination, Says UN Chief

Tuesday, 15 June, 2021 - 05:45
Children with albinism often have poor eyesight. Antony Njuguna/Reuters

On International Albinism Awareness Day, on June 13, the UN chief reiterated his "solidarity with persons with albinism."

Albinism, a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition found in both men and women, presents as a lack of melanin pigmentation in hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light. As a result, almost all people with albinism are visually impaired and are prone to developing skin cancer.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that this year's theme, "Strength beyond All Odds," reflects the "resilience, perseverance and achievements" of people with albinism in the face of pervasive "misconceptions, discrimination and violence."

While numbers vary, the UN estimates that in North America and Europe one in every 17,000 to 20,000 people have some form of albinism, but in sub-Saharan Africa, the figure is higher.

Profoundly socially and medically misunderstood, people with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide.

They are often the object of superstitious beliefs and myths, which not only foster their marginalization and social exclusion, but also lead to various forms of stigma discrimination and violence.

"Despite these obstacles to well-being and security, leaders of organizations representing persons with albinism continue to work hard to support the most vulnerable," said Guterres.

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