People with albinism are extremely vulnerable to sun exposure related skin cancer. Shockingly, in Tanzania where the UV index is very high, 98% of the albino population die from skin cancer before the age of 35 because of a lack of sun screen, sun hats and early medical treatment.
The albino population of Tanzania, estimated to number 25,000, currently faces severe social prejudice, discrimination and socio-economic exclusion. As a result this community is marginalized from essential life-saving health services.
In response, Standing Voice created a pioneering health initiative in March 2013 – The Standing Voice Skin Cancer Prevention and Treatment Programme. At Standing Voice, we built a growing network of clinics currently taking place at 22 sites across Tanzania, screening the skin of 2,476 people with albinism every four months. A new clinic location is introduced in to The Programme every four months and aims to be operational in every region of Tanzania by 2018.
This vital health initiative has been developed in partnership with the Regional Dermatology Training Centre (RDTC) in Moshi (Tanzania) and, together with Standing Voice, delivers life-saving outreach clinics that utilise the skills and expertise of RDTC trained local dermatologists across Tanzania. RDTC not only delivers surgery but is also the main dermatology training centre in Sub-Saharan Africa. RDTC has a network of alumni dermatologists stationed across Tanzania who are engaged in this essential work.
Prior to the programme this network of skilled dermatologists were not providing services to people with albinism. Standing Voice has activated this network to provide skin cancer prevention and treatment clinics to thousands of people with albinism who were previously excluded from this crucial healthcare provision. During the clinics patients are provided with preventative treatment such as cryotherapy and regular supplies of locally manufactured sunscreen as well as funding for life-saving surgery to those who require it. At each clinic education is given on skin cancer prevention such as sun cream application and protective clothing.