Albinos want govt to scrap taxes on sun protective gears

Thursday June 14 2018

Motherly. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga carries a baby

Motherly. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga carries a baby living with albinism while officiating at the International Day of Awareness for Persons with Albinism at Busoga Square in Jinja, yesterday. PHOTO BY PARLIAMENT PRESS 

By Monitor Team


People living with albinism want government to scrap taxes on sunburn protective gears, including sun creams, glasses and hats.
They made the plea a day ahead of today’s Budget reading.
They want taxes scrapped off effective July 1, at the beginning of the new financial year 2018/2019.
Under their umbrella body, the Uganda Albinos’ Association (UAA), the people without skin melanin pigment supposed to protect them from direct exposure to sunshine, said the high cost of the gears has sentenced them to acquisition of different cancer and premature aging.
Ms Claire Kyobe, the UAA president, said a single bottle of one sun cream costs between Shs120,000 and Shs150,000, which majority of them cannot afford.
She decried the rate of stigmatisation in the job market that has rendered majority of them unemployed and hence poor.
“We are advocating for sunscreens and we want government to help us because people living with albinism are very poor…they are not even working since they are discriminated. Government should also start supplying them (cream) to places such as hospitals where we can access them,” Ms Kyobe said.
Ms Kyobe was speaking yesterday at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) near Mulago hospital during an event to commemorate the International Day of Awareness for Persons with Albinism.
The national day celebrations were held at Busoga Square in Jinja Town under the theme; “Let your life shine.”
With a total number of 8,725 albinos in the country, Dr Noreb Mugisha, the head of comprehensive community cancer programme (CCP) at UCI said, it should not be costly to make policies that promote the rights of albinos to provide them with protective gears and special friendly health services.
“For people who are leaving with albinism because they lack melanin, their skin is very liable to get skin cancer because ultraviolet rays damage their skin and they can develop skin cancer…they are also susceptible to infections,” Dr Mugisha explained.
Dr Mugisha also asked people living with albinism to avoid jobs that expose them to the sun as much as possible and prevent direct infiltration of the rays to their body, which exposes them to common cancers like that of the skin and throat.
Mr Sam Ochongu, a resident of Mukono Municipality, whose daughter is living with albinism, said he is only able to provide sun cream for his daughter through non-governmental organisations and fundraising from family members.
UCI also used the day to offer free cancer screening services for people living with albinism, an offer that will go on until Friday.
Worldwide, albinism is among one in 170,000 and one in every 4,000 people in sub-Saharan region people and occurs when two careers of an albinism gene have a child.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of Parliament has placed fresh demands on the government to address as a matter of urgency the plight of persons with albinism.
Ms Kadaga was on Wednesday speaking at Busoga Square in Jinja.
Among the demands is the provision of free sunscreen creams and other items, including glasses and caps to all universal education institutions and the need for a national action plan on disability.
The Speaker also wants learners with albinism to be given extra time during examinations because they have visual challenges as well as deliberate employment opportunities for such persons.
“We are in the times of sustainable development goals and we cannot afford to leave these people behind; it is our responsibility to ensure that they are empowered,” she said.
Ms Kadaga said she has already held a discussion with President Museveni on the demands and she believes he will give a good response.

Compiled by Lilian Namagembe, Nobert Aturinda, Moses Kyeyune & Abubaker Kirunda