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Skin Cancer killing Persons with Albinism in Malawi-Massa

APAM Executive Director Boniface Massa

By Chikondi Manjawira

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-The Association of Persons with Albinism (APAM) has expressed worry over skin cancer which is killing most of the persons with Albinism despite the physical killing of hunting and abducting them.

This comes after APAM in partnership with Standing Voice and Ministry of Health introduced the Skin Cancer Prevention Program.

The program delivers  outreach skin cancer prevention and treatment for people with albinism in Malawi.

Speaking in an interview with Maravipost, APAM Executive Director Boniface Massa said the country may target physical killings

Massa observed that  skin cancer is also killing persons with albinism as 40% of persons with albinism are dying of skin cancer and 20% of persons with albinism in Malawi are accessing quality health care.

“The program is currently in two districts of Zomba and Mangochi where health experts especially dermatologists  and APAM officials visit remote areas to reach people with albinism who cannot manage to make it to the district hospital for sunscreen.

“We have reached out to over 250 people with albinism and over 20people have been properly treated of skin cancer in Mangochi district,” said Massa.

Massa however said that it all depend on the willingness of the Ministry of health to move beyond just providing access to sunscreen but to provide prevention measure to skin cancer.

He commended the Ministry for being supportive in responding to the needs of the people with albinism in terms of providing quality health care.

He therefore, acknowledged there is little progress that has been made in as far killing and abduction of persons with albinism is concerned.

“We are trying our best as APAM and other stakeholders to raise awareness. We are following the recent case of  McDonald Masambuka that is still in court. It is our hope that such high profile cases should see to the end results. It is one of the cases that we feel as a country we can learn what is really pushing people to be hunting and killing persons with albinism”, said Massa.

Skin Cancer Prevention Program is an ongoing program as you are aware that this it is the only program in Malawi that APAM, Standing Voice and Ministry of Health are jointly implementing.

He added, “However, people with albinism in other many districts are still suffering and cases of people with albinism dying of skin cancer are still many hence the need to roll out the program across other districts in the country”.

Mangochi district hospital Clinical Officer, Paul Kanyang’ama said there are less or no cases of people with albinism developing cancer at the district unlike in remote areas because the hospital dedicates a day in every week to provide sunscreen, skin cancer education, prevention measures, detection and treatment.

“Mobile clinics are done once in every 6 months and each mobile clinic provides skin examination, liquid nitrogen cryotherapy, preventative education, sun protective clothing, surgery referral where necessary and a regular supply of sunscreen”, Kanyang’anya explained.

Jawadu London, one of the persons with albinism is a beneficiary of mobile sunscreen clinics. London said he no longer experiences serious skin problems since he started accessing mobile clinic services.

The Skin Cancer Prevention Program delivers outreach skin cancer prevention and treatment for people with albinism in Malawi. The program was initiated in Mangochi District since 2016.