… Emphasises “Leave No Child Behind” Policy

The Lagos State Government, on Wednesday, joined the rest of the world to celebrate the year 2021 International Albinism Awareness Day with pupils in the State Primary and Secondary schools, just as it re-emphasised its commitment towards leaving no child behind regardless of skin and hair colour.

Speaking during the event held at the Adeyemi-Bero Auditorium, Alausa, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mrs. Abosede Adelaja, stated that albinism is a genetic condition and has nothing to do with individual character or personality.

She admonished the public against all forms of harassment, stigmatisation and humiliation of fellow Nigerian students because of the difference in the colour of their hair and skin, urging them to be accommodating and eschew violence.

While acknowledging that albinism could be challenging, the Director Child Guidance, School Counselling and Special Education, Mrs. Olusola Somoye stated that the awareness programme will also serve as a reminder to both albinos and their guardians to cater for their health challenges, morale and sense of living.

Dr. Edi Onyinye Prisca, the Guest Lecturer, in her presentation titled, “Sensitisation /Awareness Campaign against Stigmatisation of Albinos in the Society: Role of Stakeholders”, commended the Lagos State Government for organising the awareness programme, adding that she never had such privileges during her childhood as an albino.

While advising pupils/students with albinism to avoid exposing their skin to the sun and manage their movement between the hours of 10 am to 4 pm, Dr. Prisca noted that they have inadequate melanin, which normally protects the skin from UV (ultraviolet) damage, and is responsible for the difference in colour of the eyes, skin and hair.

The lecturer advised the government to create stringent laws to stop human rights violation of people, especially those with albinism, while ensuring job creation, provision of free workshop/training for people with albinism in relevant crafts and enforcing a quota for persons with disabilities in employment.

Also, Mrs. Josephine Omolola in her lecture “Maintenance of Albino Skin and Vision from the Health Perspective”, pointed out the need for albinos to protect their skin from the sun, saying “it is very important because they are more sensitive to sun exposure and have an increased risk of skin cancer”.

She said contrary to the wrong belief of our people, “Albinism is no punishment for any crime, neither is it the making of any god or goddess. Albinism is the existence of a substantially lower rate of melanin production, which is the pigment responsible for the colour of the eyes”.

Mrs. Omolola commended the teachers for their constant support and urged them to always pay attention to students’ emotional state and need as this will aid their performance in school activities.

The highlight of the event was the distribution of free Sun Screen to albino pupils in Lagos State to help them in skin management and reduce the risk of skin cancer. They were also urged to wear sunglasses to mitigate the effect of the sun on their eyes and vision.

Ayomide Oyewole

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