In Africa today numerous challenges continually confront millions of people living with albinism first as individuals and as a demographic group within the continent. Across African countries including Nigeria, Albinos are classified amongst the vulnerable groups of society, which includes people living with various kinds of physical disabilities.
The prevalence rate of albinism in Nigeria is ranked amongst the highest in the world with an estimated figure of over two million albinos living in the country. By implication people living with albinism (PWA) in Nigeria represent one of the largest vulnerable groups in the country today. Despite their stated vulnerability and strength in number, and unlike other vulnerable groups in the Nigeria, they least enjoy the same level of special attention, security and support from governments at all levels in the country.
The need for special attention to be given to the security and socio-economic wellbeing of all persons living with albinism and other vulnerable groups in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Specific areas of their lives require prime focus and special intervention. Identified areas requiring both governmental and societal intervention include healthcare, advocacy and social awareness education, social inclusion, academic education, economic empowerment, and socio-political protection from various forms of societal abuse and discrimination.
The poverty and lack of education suffered by albinos does not stem from any mental or physical disability, but mostly as a result of discrimination, social exclusion and stigma, and in some cases the human rights abuse they suffer as a result of their skin colour.
Statistics show that over 600,000 Nigerians living with albinism suffer discrimination from their families, schoolmates and peers. For instance, it is not uncommon to find families practicing infanticide on babies born with albinism. Or the deliberate neglect to educate children with albinism, believing that their employment chances are limited, and therefore their education a waste of resources.
Albinos, who do make it to school, suffer incessant teasing and bullying from peers, which fosters a core of low self-worth and assertiveness. As a result, many people with albinism do not have the full social or economic tools to live productive lives. Lacking the confidence to compete favourably with others in the labour market and therefore unable to reach their full human potential. Both the individuals and the country suffer, as the vast majority of the skills of this group are not being utilized for the greater benefit of society.