UN International Albinism Awareness Day: Shedding Light on Challenges Facing Persons with Albinism

The world observes, every June 13, International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) to raise awareness about Albinism, a rare genetic disorder that affects the production of melanin, subsequently causing a partial or complete absence of pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes. 

This year, International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) will be celebrated under the theme Inclusion is Strength to ensure the integration of people with albinism in all fields and aspects of life and shed light on the imperative of inclusion of people with albinism. 

Albinism affects more than just the surface, as persons with albinism are more at risk of developing skin cancer because of the lack of melanin and the exposure to intense ultraviolet radiation, and often develop permanent visual impairment. 

As for the social aspect, people with albinism are more prone to discrimination, stigmatization, and prejudice given the several superstitious tales that surround this genetic disease. 

In this regard, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) is actively working with governments to promote and guarantee the rights of people with albinism, to ensure them a normal life, and eradicate the stigma linked to albinism.

A report of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) entitled “People with Albinism Worldwide” indicated that “there is little to no data about people with albinism living in the Middle East and North Africa,” noting that several clinical studies show a significant presence of people with albinism in Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Iran.

There are no official statistics on the number of people with albinism in Morocco; however, estimations predict that about 2.500 Moroccans are dealing with this medical condition.

In an exclusive interview with Morocco Times TV,  Amal Yekkou, a young technology and development teacher, spoke about her experience as a person with albinism in Morocco and the challenges that Moroccans with albinism face in their daily lives.

Yekkou stated that opinions about people with albinism in Morocco range widely, as there is a variety of perceptions and opinions which range from tolerance and respect to exclusion and marginalization.

“In Morocco, there are people who sympathize with and treat persons with albinism fairly because they are aware of the difficulties people with this medical condition encounter and want to provide them with opportunities to promote equality,” stated Yekkou, expressing her gratitude for people who treat persons with albinism as valuable citizens deserving of respect, equal treatment, and rights.

In a similar context, Yekkou also said that people with albinism may occasionally experience discrimination and exclusion in Moroccan society, as they could be subjected to unfavorable perceptions and intolerance and struggle to access essential services, and opportunities for education, and employment.

“People with albinism may also deal with unfavorable stereotypes and stigma, which may have an impact on their social interactions, academic performance, and self-confidence, and can  also be subjected to loneliness, exclusion, and limitations in realizing their full potential,” added Amal Yekkou in an attempt to paint a clearer picture of the negative experiences people with albinism go through. 

In this regard, Yekkou emphasized that society as a whole should seek to eradicate stigma and discrimination against persons with albinism and to promote tolerance and equality for these people, underlining that people with albinism should be able to exercise their rights to attain assistance and resources they require, including suitable educational and employment possibilities.

I urge the Moroccan community on the occasion of International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) to be aware that albinism is a common medical condition and not a sign of a person’s inadequacy or flaw,” stated Amal Yekkou, calling on society needs to eradicate myths about albinism and learn about the medical facts surrounding it. 

In this regard, Amal emphasized the importance of providing individuals with albinism with a supportive environment that allows them to take advantage of employment, education, and other fundamental rights, noting that “people with albinism must be supported in their full integration into society and treated with equality, tolerance, and respect.”

On the occasion of International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD), Amal Yekkou also took this opportunity to send a message to Moroccan society in particular and the world in general, emphasizing  that “we need to spread the word that having albinism does not prevent a person from pursuing their goals and objectives and that they can succeed in life just like everyone else.”

“Let’s spread the word, refute misconceptions about albinism, and cooperate to create a welcoming and encouraging environment for those who are affected by albinism in Morocco,” concluded Amal. 

International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) is an opportunity to dispel myths regarding albinism and educate the general public about this genetic medical condition.

This International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) contributes to minimizing stigma, discrimination, and prejudice against people with albinism by eradicating false narratives and spreading accurate data and scientific information.

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