UN in Zimbabwe Marks International Albinism Awareness Day

The United Nations in Zimbabwe was proud to host its most reNesbert Mudzviti, ZIMAS project coordinator sharing his experiences living with albinism.cent Wednesday@UNIC event to mark International Albinism Awareness Day.  The round table discussion brought together UN representatives and members of the albino community, including guest speakers from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zimbabwe Albino Association (ZIMAS), the Albino Charity Organization of Zimbabwe (ALCOZ), and the Alive Albinism Association. 

The event sought to raise awareness on albinism through personal testimonies from the guest speakers, whose lives have been affected by albinism.   Speaking on the challenges of living with albinism, Mr. Farai Manuganidze of ZIMAS stressed that albinism is a human rights issue that requires multi-dimensional response.   “Education, health and social services are the pillars of the framework required to address the issues of albinism,” Mr. Farair told the audience. 

As a mother of two children with albinism, Mrs. Loveness Mainato of ALCOZ spoke of battling the stigma associated with albinism.  Mrs. Mainato recalled: “My husband deserted me because of the influences of relatives and my children couldn’t play with other children because of the views of their parents…. I use to cry all the time but now I soldier on.” 

Ms. Gwen Marange of Alive Albinism Association shared an intimate perspective of a young woman living with albinism and praised all women who stand up to face the challenge. “People with albinism can make meaningful contributions… I salute all women living with albinism who have raised the bar high, we must work with all stakeholders including the Government and the UN to fight the abuses suffered by our sisters in our beloved country,” said Ms. Marange.

In line with the core principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of ‘leaving no one behind,’ Dr. Anderson Chimusoro of the WHO reiterated the UN in Zimbabwe’s support to all people living with albinism.  “The WHO appreciates the seriousness of the issues faced by people living with albinism and is working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to develop guidelines for the management of the issues highlighted today,” Dr. Chimusoro informed participants.

Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition which occurs worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender.  It most commonly results in the lack of melanin pigment in the hair, skin, and eyes, causing vulnerability to sun exposure.  Both parents must carry the gene for it to be passed on to their children, even if they do not themselves have manifestations of the condition. 

To learn more about albinism please visit the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) at http://albinism.ohchr.org/.