The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on December 18, 2014, observing June 13th as International Albinism Awareness Day.
Albinism Awareness Day is an honour to albino individuals across the globe who stay positive and strong despite facing various challenges. This day reminds us that irrespective of having different skin colour and physical appearances, everyone deserves to be respected like any other individual on the planet.
What is Albinism?
Albinism in humans is a congenital condition wherein there is a partial or complete absence of melanin pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes. It is a rare inherited genetic condition in which children can get albinism if both parents have albinism or are only carriers of the gene. It is non-contagious, meaning it cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Many albino people suffer from medical issues such as vision problems. Due to the absence of skin pigmentation, they are likely to suffer from sunburns (high sensitivity to the sun’s ultra-violet radiation) and skin cancer.
The symptoms of albinism include -
- Very pale skin, eyes, and hair
- Vision problems
- Nystagmus - irregular, rapid eye movements
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Patches of missing skin pigment
- Photophobia: - Light sensitivity
There are different types of albinism, such as -
- Oculocutaneous albinism (OCA)
- Ocular albinism
- Chediak-Higashi syndrome
- Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome
- Griscelli syndrome
Social Stigma Around Albinism
People with albinism face many forms of discrimination and stigma around the world, and it is an emerging topic in human rights. It includes social isolation, bullying, violent attacks, and many superstitions associated with them.
Women who give birth to albino children are often left by their husbands and families. They are unaware that both parents carry the gene to pass on albinism to their children.
Children with albinism are considered a misfortune and are usually abandoned by their parents, or they become the victims of infanticide.
Due to vision problems, many suffering children are forced to drop out of school. Inadequate education can lead to unemployment and affect a person's overall standard of living. Vision impairment also makes it difficult for albino people to get a job. People with albinism face social isolation, and it is hard for them to build social relationships and start a family.
Acceptance and Awareness for Albinism -
People with albinism always need our support as they are one of us and no different. Merely having a different skin tone and physical features does not take away the rights and happiness that they deserve.
It is high time people worldwide should ensure that the human rights of albino individuals are not violated and that they are given love, freedom and being treated with appropriate respect.
Yes, albinism is included in the list of disabilities in India because of the associated problems with vision.
Albinism is a rare inherited genetic condition. It's non-contagious, and it can't be transmitted to others.
As albinism is a genetic disorder, it’s not possible to cure it.
Albinism can cause eye-related problems, sunburns, and skin cancer because the skin of people with albinism has high sensitivity to light and sun exposure.
Yes, there is a high chance of having an albino child if both the parents have albinism. However, even if the parents are not albino, but carry the gene, they could have an albino child.
An albino person can live a normal life span. However, a person with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome can have a short life span due to lung disease.