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Population of people with albinism hits 134,000

By Richard Chirombo:

KONDOWE—We are talking of about 153 attacks on people with albinism

The 2018 Malawi Housing and Population Census (MHPC) comprehensive report, which National Statistical Office (NSO) launched in Lilongwe on Friday, indicates that people, including the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam), were, all along, misled on the number of people with albinism in the country.

Before the census, Apam had been saying Malawi had about 15, 000 people with albinism.

However, NSO’s comprehensive report indicates that Malawi has 134,636 people with albinism, representing 0.8 percent of the population.

Former Apam president, Overstone Kondowe, who is now Chairperson for the African Union for Persons with Albinism, has acknowledged that the number of people with albinism was underestimated.

“This implies that we were under-reporting,” Kondowe said.

He added that the latest development means there is more work to be done to reach out to people with albinism in the country.

“This calls for more advocacy interventions and projects to reach out to the population of PWA [persons with albinism]. Credit to NSO and United Nations Development Programme for the support to include questions of albinism [in the MHPC],” he said.

The development comes at a time the country has been registering cases of attacks on people with albinism.

For example, on December 31 2018, Yasin Phiri, a 60-year-old man with albinism, was murdered at his home in Nkhata Bay.

Another PWA, 14-year-old Goodson Makanjira from Dedza District, was abducted this year and is feared dead.

Since 2014, there have been about 153 attacks on people with albinism, out of which 25 were fatal.

In addition, over 11 people with albinism are reported missing.

In a bid to stem the attacks, the country developed a National Plan of Action on Persons with Albinism, which requires funds amounting to K3.1 billion for implementation.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare announced that it had asked NSO to, through the 2018 MHPC, establish population sizes of PWA to help councils and the government know where persons with albinism live in order to arrange for proper security measures.

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