When it comes to persons with albinism and skin cancer, The National Hospital Abuja is replete with stories to tell, as daily, its doors open for persons with albinism in varying stages of skin cancer.
Apart from the pain and scarring the victims themselves go through, the trauma it causes the families is unprecedented. Watching a loved one gradually degenerate in health until death is no easy feat, even for those who pride themselves with Herculean strength.
TAF has watched helplessly as young, active and virile persons with albinism have come, from all parts of Nigeria, with massive disfiguring tumors, seeking medical attention. When asked how they could have let it go so far without professional aid, many confess their ignorance of its malignancy.
In 2006, when it became apparent that albinism, was closely related to skin cancer, the founder of the foundation went to great lengths sensitizing and creating awareness on the prevention and protection of persons with albinism; emphasizing the use of sunscreen and protective clothing.
As the death of members continually increased, he was forced to think of a more long lasting health solution. That was the beginning of the Free Skin Cancer Treatment Project between The Federal Ministry of Health, National Hospital Abuja and The Albino Foundation.
Through this undertaking, nothing less than 1000 persons with albinism have received treatment and been spared avoidable death albeit with a few losses, but the brunt on both the foundation and National Hospital has been enormous and saddled us with a whopping bill of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty million Naira) only!
Needless to say, the old cliche that “A stitch in time saves nine,” rings true in situations like these. The most avertable means to saving lives remains in skin prevention. It is cheaper to buy a tube of sunscreen, use an umbrella and wear protective clothing than it will be to conduct another funeral.
The immediate past International Albinism Awareness Day celebration, through strong media presence, served as a great platform to drive the point home effectively, dealing largely on the scourge of skin cancer and its destructive effect on persons with albinism.
We hope to make greater strides in this endeavor while seeking new partnerships and building up on existing ones.