SKIN CANCER PREVENTION
PWAs are at extreme risk of skin cancer.
People with albinism also face a deadly enemy in the hot equatorial sun. Because people with albinism lack melanin, their skin is completely defenseless against dangerous UV rays. Most Tanzanians think the sunburn, wounds and skin cancer that are so common among these people is an unavoidable characteristic of the albinism itself, so children play outdoors through the hottest part of the day and 90% of adults work outdoors as subsistence farmers. Even for those people who recognize the danger of the sun, dire poverty means there is little money for going to a doctor, and it is nearly impossible to buy wide-brimmed hats, protective clothing or sunscreen. With proper care, people with albinism can live as long as anyone else. But in Tanzania, more than 80% die before their 30th birthdays, and less than 2% survive past 40.
HOW WE HELP
Prevention, early detection, and treatment are key to maintaining healthy skin.
When we do village education, the local people with albinism are eager to learn how to protect themselves. We meet with them and talk about exactly what they can do: stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day, wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, long pants or skirt, and socks. We also encourage wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes. We provide these items when we can, as well as sunscreen to use on their face and hands. Where there are skin screenings by local dermatologists nearby, we encourage them to attend regularly. Prevention is the best medicine.