University of Botswana has sponsored the Albinism Society of Botswana (ASB) with two days Accommodation worth P50, 000 for an International Albinism Day Conference held in Gaborone from June 12-13, 2022.
The conference also coincided with International Albinism Awareness Day which was commemorated on June 13, 2022. About 200 participants from across the country were to attend the conference with UB providing them accommodation from June12-13, 2022.
The University Botswana made provision for accommodation as part of its commitment towards its strategic goal of enhancing Botswana’s economic development, stakeholder engagement and having a positive impact to people’s lives. Consequently, the conference sought to reduce stigma that people with albinism endure besides fighting for their rights and addressing social challenges they are often faced with. On the other hand, part of the objective of the awareness day was to help de-mystify albinism and educate the public about the condition.
Albinism is a genetically inherited condition characterised by a deficit in melanin production that leaves people in a condition of pale skin, usually light, sometimes reddish eyes and blond hair.
Speaking at press conference held in Gaborone recently, ASB Chairman, Mr Sergeant Kgosietsile applauded UB for extending a helping hand by offering ASB members accommodation because it afforded them a unique opportunity to have their voice heard and celebrate the awareness day.
Mr Kgosietsile further appealed to UB to increase its support by offering students with albinism bursaries given that their needs were barely catered for in government schools. He highlighted some of the challenges that students with Albinism were faced with including visual impairment which impact negatively on their academic performance.
“Children with albinism are able to perform well as any other student in class if their low vision is adequately addressed,” said Mr Kgosietsile.
Furthermore, other challenges that Mr Kgosietsile underlined included vulnerability to the sun, myths associated albinism and serious trauma such as stigmatisation, bullying or neglect. He also viewed this as some of the factors contributing to their inability to learn effectively and develop a positive sense of personal identity.
“The majority of people with albinism are desperately poor and isolated from mainstream community activities and lack the most basic needs that are enjoyed by other People Living with Disabilities,” he said.
Although government provided certain specific services to people with albinism such as sunscreen cream through the Ministry of Health, Mr Kgosietsile lamented that a lot still needed to be done to ensure protection of people living with albinism more so that their life expectancy was in most cases shortened by skin cancer.