Home Health & Food Implement disability act, albinism group urges FG

Implement disability act, albinism group urges FG

by James Davies

Amarachi Okeh

The chairperson, Anambra State Albinism Association, Vivian Ezeonwumelu has called on the Federal Government to swiftly put measures in place to ensure the full implementation of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, noting that it would help enhance the participation of persons living with disability in the society.

Ezeonwumelu made the call in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise in commemoration of the 2022 International Albinism Awareness Day themed: ‘United in making our voice heard’. The day is held on the 13th of June every year. 

Implementing the disability Act, she said, would greatly count as an effort by the government in creating a united front in fighting against the discrimination against persons with albinism face in Nigeria.

The president, Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) had in January 2019 signed into law the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act.

The law seeks to criminalise any discrimination against persons living with disabilities, which persons with albinism are part of.

The president’s National Assembly liaison officer, Ita Enang, said the new bill would see organisations and individuals face sanctions if found guilty of discriminating against persons living with disabilities.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, Ezeonwumelu said if the govt could start the implementation of the Act swiftly, “I don’t think there will be any need to say tomorrow I’m agitating for the freedom for persons living with albinism because once they join their voices to ours it will make a lot of people to know that this is high time we changed the narrative.”

Ezeonwumelu also told our correspondent that the general public should also unite in stamping out the scourge of inhumane treatment that is meted out to persons living with albinism.

Narrating an experience a person living with albinism shared with her on Friday, the Chairperson lamented that despite the time we live in, some persons living with albinism are still being treated inhumanely.

She, however, added that gradually with knowledge people are standing up to correct the wrong mindsets.

She said, “In our programme on Friday a lady shared that she was on a bus when a pregnant woman wanted to come in only to see her and said, ‘God forbid.’

“People were confused and asked her why she would say that and she answered that she can’t sit near a person living with albinism as she is pregnant because the baby will now be born with albinism if she sits close to her.

“So, you can imagine how you’d feel if someone treated you like that. She was lucky that some enlightened persons spoke up for her and condemned the pregnant woman’s act.

“We have been saying one thing every year, this time, the society should stand up for us and join their voices to ours and say enough is enough on stigmatisation and marginalisation.”

She also urged persons living with albinism who are successful in their chosen fields to identify with associations of persons living with the condition so they can encourage young children that they can be just about anything they want.

Ezeonwumelu urged parents of children with this impairment to take their young kids to an eyecare specialist instead of withdrawing them from school on the assumption that they are not smart.

“Due to the lack of melanin that we have it makes our eyes photophobic so this makes every person with albinism to be visually impaired.

“When those who are not privileged to use glasses on time or at all try to focus on something with their eyes, it makes them shake their head trying to focus on something, you don’t have to rub it in.

“By so doing, you are making a mockery of that person and that is why most persons with albinism seem to withdraw from the society. Many go into depression.

“Some, because of the visual impairments are withdrawn from school instead of the parents looking for the solution they withdraw the child from the school saying that the child is not smart.

 ‘But I tell you, if something is done to address the challenge of visual impairment, you’d see that the child is very smart,” she said.

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