13 June: International Albinism Awareness Day observed

International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) is observed every year throughout the world on 13 June, with the aim of raising public awareness on albinism and to prevent attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism. Theme for IAAD 2019 was- Still Standing Strong. It calls upon people around the globe to recognize, celebrate and stand in solidarity with all albinism patients.

About Albinism

It is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited disorder present at birth. It is a congenital disorder characterized by partial or complete absence of pigment melanin in skin, hair, and eyes. In almost all types of albinism, both parents (who are carrier) even if they do not have albinism themselves must carry gene for it to be passed on. The albinism condition is found in both sexes regardless of ethnicity and in all countries worldwide.

There is no cure for absence of melanin that is predominantly central to albinism.

The lack of melanin in skin makes albinos more prone to sunburn and also skin cancers. It is also associated with eye related problems such as photophobia, amblyopia (lazy eye), nystagmus, etc.

Due to lack of melanin in skin as well as eyes of persons with albinism, they often have permanent visual impairment which mostly leads to disabilities. They also face discrimination due to their skin colour and thus are often subjected to multiple and intersecting discrimination on grounds of both disability and colour.

Background

A Canadian NGO named Under the Same Sun (UTSS), on an international level joined Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari, late Ambassador of Mission of Somalia to United Nations (UN), in his effort to pass a resolution for promoting and protecting rights of persons with albinism. Such a resolution came about when on June 13 2013 United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted 1st ever resolution on albinism.

Thereafter, on 26 June 2014 UNHRC in its resolution 26/10 recommended 13 June to be proclaimed as International Albinism Awareness Day by United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA). Later, UNGA adopted resolution 69/170 on 18 December 2014 and proclaimed 13 June with effect from 2015 to be observed as International Albinism Awareness Day.

Why this date?

The 13 June date was chosen is reminiscent of UN’s first ever resolution which was passed on 13 June year before.

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