Strategies to Address Vulnerable Populations

Albinism in Africa

Oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) is much more common in certain parts of Africa than elsewhere in the world. However, there are limited statistics regarding the incidence and prevalence of albinism in Africa in the current literature. Approximately 1 in 1429 in Tanzania, 1 in 4182 in Zimbabwe, and 1 in 4000 in South Africa have OCA, which is strikingly disparate from the prevalence rates in the United States (1 in 37,000) and globally (1 in 20,000). Therefore, the albino population in Africa represents an incredibly vulnerable group of people.

Firstly, the majority of Africans have dark complexions; therefore, an albino’s fair skin stands in stark contrast to their darker counterparts. This dissimilarity is readily apparent to the local populace and lends itself to public scrutiny. Albinos are often segregated from their community due to erroneous myths surrounding the genesis and transmission of albinism. Many people believe OCA is contagious, and will therefore avoid physical contact with a person with albinism.  Another common belief is that the family of an individual with albinism is being punished for having previously mocked an albino. The resulting stigma associated with albinism can lead to depressive symptoms and ostracism.

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Joan Paul

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