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Albinism Day: NGO Seeks Aid To Sustain Subsidized Surgeries

Lucky Obukohwo, Reporting

Initiative for Advancement of the Albinism Cause (INAAC) a Non Governmental Organisation, has appealed to Nigerians to render assistance to the foundation to enable it continue with its skin cancer surgery programme for persons with albinism.

Miss Joy Odigie, Founder, INAAC, made the plea on the occasion of the 2024 International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) celebrated on June 13th, in Benin on Thursday.

Odigie said that persons with albinism were prone to skin cancers due to the lack or minimal amount of melanin in their skin.

“Melanin pigmentation gives the skin its dark colouration as well as provides natural protection for the skin against the harmful effects of the sun rays.

“When persons with albinism have prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB rays of the sun, they can develop skin tumors, freckles, and skin cancers.”

She said that the increasing burden of skin cancers among persons with albinism in Nigeria prompted the NGO to start a subsidized skin cancer surgery programme.

“Climate change has led to rising temperatures and heat waves, negatively affecting the skin of people with albinism in Nigeria.

“We are now recording increasing cases of skin tumors and cancers, especially among rural dwellers and poor persons with albinism who lack access to sunscreen lotions, skin checks, and services,” Odigie said.

She said since the programme’s inception two years ago, about four individuals had benefited, with four more waiting in line.

“We partner with a a hospital in Benin to run the subsidized skin tumors and cancers surgeries.

“The hospital offers a 20 – to 30 per cent discount to patients, while the NGO covers an additional 30 to 40 per cent of the remaining medical bills.

She, however, said that the NGO was struggling to sustain the programme due to insufficient funding and high cost of medical treatment.

“For instance, a type of surgery that used to cost about N120,000 now goes for about N250,000 due to high cost of medical services and consumables.

“Also, some of the patients find it difficult to pay the subsidized amount while those who live aside Benin City find it difficult to pay transportation fees to access treatment at the hospital.

“We are calling on well meaning Nigerians, government and Non Governmental Organisations to support these subsidized surgeries and if possible make it a free surgery programme’ she said

She added that the 2024 theme for the IAAD, “10 Years of Collective Progress,” highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts in advancing the well-being of individuals with albinism.



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