The International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS) and Stiefel, a GSK company stiefel.com are taking the challenging plight of albinos in sub-Saharan Africa very seriously. They announced a global initiative on sun protection for albinos called Hats On For Skin Health. The program’s main goal is to raise funds to provide hats and other sun-protective items for Tanzanians suffering from albinism. Albinism is the genetic inability to produce the pigment melanin in the skin, hair and eyes, resulting in pale skin, light hair, pinkish eyes and impaired vision.
Curiously, Tanzania has tens of thousands of albinos among its population, and unless measures are taken to protect their skin from the sun’s rays, there is a high likelihood that they will develop skin cancer at a very early age. This skin cancer is often fatal by age 40 and less than 2 percent of albino children in Tanzania reach their 40th birthday. Recent studies have shown this lifespan can be extended when measures are taken to protect skin from the sun.
The campaign was announced at the 22nd World Congress of Dermatology in Seoul, Korea to encourage participation and donations from around the world. Donations received help ILDS purchase hats or other sun-protective items that will be distributed by the Regional Dermatology Training Center (RDTC) in Moshi, Tanzania, an ILDS program that manages an albino project including a mobile skin care clinic.
“By announcing our Hats On For Skin Health program at the World Congress of Dermatology, we hope to inspire others, especially the worldwide dermatology community, to join our efforts to help albinos in Tanzania better protect their skin,” said Bill Humphries, President, Dermatology, Stiefel.