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The Minister for Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Jean Kalilani has said that the Government values the lives of persons with albinism. She made the remarks during the commemoration of the 2018 International Albinism Awareness Day at Mwenilondo Primary School in Karonga where she also launched the National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism.

“My Ministry, together with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security and the Malawi Police Service are committed and working tirelessly to restore hope and peace to all persons with albinism who are suffering discrimination, exclusion and attacks.  In this time of diversity, no one should suffer violence and injustice due to their appearance. Our country has done a lot to promote and protect human rights, as such persons with albinism must equally enjoy the fruits of these efforts,” she said.

She further said that the National Action Plan will guide the country to address the challenges that people with albinism face.

“The National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism has been developed to guide our efforts to address challenges persons with albinism are facing holistically. The Plan looks into various aspects of life of a person be it education, health, empowerment, protection, human rights and many more. As such it will require collaboration from all of us to achieve its goals. As we are implementing the Action Plan, my humble request is that let us involve persons with albinism,” she added.

In his remarks, President of Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Overstone Kondowe said that this year’s Albinism Awareness Day theme was unique as it brings to light the issues persons with albinism in Malawi face.

“Why is the theme Shine Our Light? Because people with albinism are going through dark times. For example, very few people with albinism have gone past from 4, and as such, it’s hard for them to effectively take part in development,” he said.

He further added that people with albinism are struggling in school as some schools do not allow them to wear protective clothing as such they are at risk of developing cancer. He also stated that they also need to be targeted in social safety programmes; included in politics and further need better protection and access to justice.  

Speaking during the ceremony, UN Women Resident Representative Clara Anyangwe said that she was hopeful that the newly launched National Action Plan will be fully implemented to address the gaps that persons with albinism face. She also said the UN is pleased with the reduced rate of attacks since 2016; and that awareness on albinism has been strengthened. She further stressed that she is hopeful that the country will succeed in ensuring that persons with albinism enjoy their full rights.

“How will success look like? When there shall no longer be any attacks on PWAs. When all perpetrators face the long arm of the law. When PWAs no longer live in fear. When PWAs hold making decision making offices,” she said.