Saturday May 25, 2019

Malawi – an Unknown Country in Africa- is Attacking its own People with Albinism

People with albinism are targeted in Malawi and other parts of Africa because of a false belief that potions made from their body parts will bring good luck and wealth.

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Lilongwe-a city of Malawi. Wikimedia Commons

Malawi is a nondescript country in Africa, bordering Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. It was also called Nyasaland in the past. The country has been witnessing a strange phenomenon: over last two years, it has witnessed killing of 17 people with  medical condition known as Albinism (there is a lack of Melanin pigmentation, thus skin looks blonde)

A person with Albinism. Due to lack of formation of Melanin pigment, the skin looks blonde. Wikimedia Commons
A person with Albinism. Due to lack of formation of Melanin pigment, the skin looks blonde. Wikimedia Commons

so much so that the United Nations cautioned that in Malawi, albinos may be at the risk of total extinction.

VOA reports:

Stronger laws are needed to protect albinos in Malawi from senseless attacks, civil rights campaigners stressed as several hundred people participated in a march to parliament in Lilongwe.

“The presentation of the petition to parliament marks our determination as citizens and civil society to call for immediate stop and end to the killings of people with albinism,” said Edward Chileka Banda, who helped organize the march.

The petition calls for life imprisonment for people who attack albinos.

Parliament member Ester Jailosi Jolobala received the petition on behalf of the speaker of parliament. She said lawmakers will take swift action.

https://youtu.be/8MkEoL9EC1o

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“You know it is disturbing … when you see perpetrators [released] either due to bail, or maybe lenient judicial sentences,” Jolobala said. “This increases fear in people with albinism here in Malawi.”

Seventeen albinos have been killed in Malawi in the past two years. Few perpetrators are caught.

People with albinism — an absence of pigment in their skin, hair and eyes — are targeted in Malawi and other parts of Africa because of a false belief that potions made from their body parts will bring good luck and wealth.

Malawi has dedicated this week to raising awareness on the issue. The country’s top football league kicked off its “Game Over” campaign. The league invited albino individuals to a special match and posted banners around the stadium denouncing attacks.

Albinism is a genetic disease. It is not contagious or infectious.

Next Story

Malawi Becomes First Country to Initiate Immunizing Children against Malaria

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix, was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2015

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malaria vaccines
FILE - Malaria drugs are seen on display in a privately owned pharmacy in Blantyre, Malawi. (L. Masina/VOA).

The World Health Organization says Malawi has become the first country to begin immunizing children against malaria, using the only licensed vaccine to protect against the mosquito-spread disease.

Although the vaccine only protects about one-third of children who are immunized, those who get the shots are likely to have less severe cases of malaria. The parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people every year, the majority of them children under 5 in Africa.

“It’s an imperfect vaccine but it still has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives,” said Alister Craig, dean of biological sciences at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who was not linked to WHO or to the vaccine. Craig said immunizing the most vulnerable children during peak malaria seasons could spare many thousands of children from falling ill with malaria or even dying.

malawi, malaria
“It’s an imperfect vaccine but it still has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives,” said Alister Craig, dean of biological sciences at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. VOA

The World Health Organization says Malawi has become the first country to begin immunizing children against malaria, using the only licensed vaccine to protect against the mosquito-spread disease.

Although the vaccine only protects about one-third of children who are immunized, those who get the shots are likely to have less severe cases of malaria. The parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people every year, the majority of them children under 5 in Africa.

“It’s an imperfect vaccine but it still has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives,” said Alister Craig, dean of biological sciences at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who was not linked to WHO or to the vaccine. Craig said immunizing the most vulnerable children during peak malaria seasons could spare many thousands of children from falling ill with malaria or even dying.

malawi, malaria
The vaccine, known as Mosquirix, was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2015. Pixabay

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Craig noted one of health officials’ biggest challenges could be convincing parents to bring their children for repeated doses of a vaccine that only protects about a third of children for a limited amount of time. More commonly used vaccines, like those for polio and measles, work more than 90 percent of the time.

“This malaria vaccine is going to save many lives, even if it is not as good as we would like,” Craig said. “But I hope this will kick-start other research efforts so that the story doesn’t end here.” (VOA)