Congo, albinos more protected from the sun

Bambino albino

Bimba albina con la madre in Congo

Preventing burns and eye damage is essential as a child

Preventing sun damage that can affect albinos: this is the main purpose of the project carried out, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, by Magic Amor, a non-profit organization, in collaboration with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-IAPB Italy and the company Salmoiraghi & Viganò, which donated dark glasses to hundreds of children.

The retina of those suffering from albinism is pigment-free or contains a reduced amount of pigment; albino children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are particularly vulnerable. Therefore, eyeglasses with filters in compliance with the law (against ultraviolet rays) are necessary, in order to avoid irreversible eye damage. Also their skin contains little or no melanin, making it necessary to use high protection sunscreen. For this reason it was necessary to promote a project that involved decisive and concrete actions both in Italy and in the African country.

bimbi albini nella Repubblica Democratica del CongoIn June 2008 the Magic Amor association went to the town of Gemena, which is located in the North-West of the Democratic Republic of Congo and to the Equator villages, in order to follow the associative projects (a primary school for 6,752 children, conferences on responsible hygiene, maternity and paternity, rotational agriculture, family adoptions, etc.).

More than half of the albino children lived in families with two or more siblings already affected by albinism. The solar damage prevention plan in albinos was implemented in several phases in the Central African state as follows:

  • Preliminary phase: communication of the message to the population and invitation to albino residents to participate in a preliminary meeting
  • Meetings with local albinos and local people in different villages and in the town of Gemena
  • Albino census
  • Individual visit to assess the state of health and any injuries that could lead to cancer
  • Donation to albinos of protective glasses (Uva/Uvb) and sunscreen with a high degree of protection (donated by some pharmacies).

In the city of Gemena the meeting led to the establishment of an association of albino patients with the purpose of integration, while avoiding serious discrimination to which they are often also subject in other African countries. The project has achieved its short term goals and has created fruitful contacts. Future developments could include new meetings in the African country and further donations. Albinos are often subject to nystagmus (inability to fixation); moreover, they are frequently affected by visual defects, so regular specialist visits are necessary in addition to the use of sun glasses and, if necessary, corrective ones. A contribution that, in African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, can mean saving sight while preserving the quality of life and the dignity of the albinos.