The day was declared by the United Nations to educate and create awareness of the skin condition in order to reduce the stigmatization that comes with among other objectives.
Vitiligo is a skin disorder in which white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. This happens because the cells that make pigment in the skin are destroyed. Vitiligo can also affect the mucous membranes (such as the tissue inside the mouth and nose) and the eye.
The cause is not known. Vitiligo may be an autoimmune disease. These diseases happen when the immune system mistakenly attacks some part of the body. In vitiligo, the immune system may destroy the melanocytes in the skin. Although it is neither painful nor life-threatening, vitiligo can be an emotional burden to people who are afflicted. Ignorance and inherited attitudes about other diseases like leprosy contribute to the stigmatization of people with vitiligo, particularly young women, who suffer from its effects.
Sadly, there are reported cases of people who suffer from the condition that has had to give up their dreams and aspirations in life.
Because the condition is not painful or damaging beyond the psychological effects, it has received little attention from researchers and medical professionals.
It is against this backdrop that the Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation, Ghana has lined up a week-long of activities to observe the day. These include a Vitiligo Awareness Walk through some principal streets in Accra, awareness tours to some selected basic and senior high schools as well as a fashion show.
Speaking to the President of VITSAF-Ghana, Ms. Enam Heikeens recounted some of the stories people with vitiligo face here in Ghana including job denials and marriage. A professional nurse herself who had to face discrimination every day from her classmates, patients and work colleagues said the only way to reduce discrimination against people with the condition is to educate them. “We have to make them aware that the condition is not contagious”, she said. She calls on individuals and corporate organizations to support the activities lined up to observe the day.
You can reach VITSAF-Ghana on 0240 548 133 or firstname.lastname@example.org