Sunday, July 25, 2021

Osinbajo urges reversal of negative stereotypes about albinism

“It is a genetic difference, not a contagious disease or a public health problem.”

• June 14, 2021
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that there is an urgent need to present aggressive counter-narratives to the socio-cultural misconceptions about albinism.

The vice president said this at a virtual event to mark World Albinism Day, with the theme “Strength Beyond All Odds.”

According to Mr Osinbajo, it is paramount to have conversations around the safety and enablement of citizens who live with albinism.

“There is a need to see it for what it is: a genetic difference not a contagious disease or a public health problem.

“In dealing with the various challenges faced by those with albinism, there is the need to have frank and robust conversations around the protection and empowerment of our compatriots that live with albinism.

“These conversations will drive change on two levels – in the public domain, where socio-cultural perceptions of albinism that are rooted in ignorance and superstition can finally be laid to rest, he said.”

The vice president further said that it would not be an easy task because superstition and socio-cultural issues take a while to deal with, but that stakeholders must aggressively begin to present counter-narratives to the socio-cultural misconceptions about the condition.

“Secondly, interventions made must be designed to improve the lives of people living with albinism.

“The time is now to do more to reverse negative mindsets and socio-cultural stereotypes about albinism in our society.

“We must also go further to take deliberate steps, as private individuals and public servants, by giving them equal opportunity in the workplace and in social settings as well,” the vice president said.

He commended the convener of the event, Jake Eppele, for his advocacy for albinos, describing him as one of the most eloquent and influential spokespersons for the rights, protection, and welfare of albinos in Nigeria and globally.

“I think it is the hard work of people like Eppele and in response to the numerous challenges faced by the albino community in the country that led to the adoption in 2012 of the National Policy on Albinism,” Mr Osinbajo said.

He added that the objective of the policy was to assist persons with albinism and provide them with as conducive an environment as possible for their self-actualisation.

In his remarks, Mr Eppele commended the vice president for making out time to attend the virtual event, despite being on transit, describing him as a man of his words.

“I also want to say that you have made history by becoming the first vice president globally to address persons with albinism on this day and I have it on record,” Mr Eppele said.

The virtual event which held on June 13 was attended by a number of distinguished personalities, including diplomats such as the American ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard. 

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