Implementation of a treatment pathway to help people with albinism in Côte d’Ivoire was initiated via the Fondation Pierre Fabre’s call for projects presented at the second African Teledermatology Conference in 2019.
The prevention and treatment programme for people with albinism in Côte d’Ivoire follows the roll-out that began in 2016 of a number of similar projects in five African countries: Tanzania, Malawi, Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo. The Ivorian project entails creating a mobile unit offering medical consultations in 10 regions of the country.
Côte d’Ivoire has little epidemiological data on the disease, but the general census performed in 2014 reported some 6,200 people with albinism in the country. Albinism, a misunderstood condition that is still the subject of irrational beliefs, is not only responsible for needless and preventable skin cancers, but is also a stigmatising disease and it is vital that the prejudices around it be dismantled.
A MULTIDISCIPLINARY INITIATIVE
The project revolves around four complementary areas of intervention:
- Information and awareness-raising on the dangers of sun exposure and cancer risks;
- Prevention through creation of a local sunscreen production unit and supply of protective clothing and eye protection;
- Screening and treatment (medico-surgical and ophthalmological care by the mobile unit and referral of severe cases to Abidjan hospital);
- Creation of a patient database to facilitate epidemiological monitoring and conducting research projects.
A MODEL THAT POOLS RESOURCES
The programme is funded by Secours Médico-Social Ivoirien, an NGO that assists albinism sufferers, and brings together many partners: public authorities, members of the scientific and medical communities, and members of civil society.
This cooperation is essential, as it brings together the broadest ensemble of skills and addresses all matters relating to the well-being of people with albinism in Côte d’Ivoire. One example is sunscreen: the formula was developed by the Laboratoires Pierre Fabre in partnership with the Foundation, is produced by the Centre de Prévention des Cancers Cutanés dus à l’Albinisme (Centre for the Prevention of Skin Cancers due to Albinism), and is then distributed to recipients by way of patient associations. There will also be work focused on improving academic support for young patients, employment guidance and resources for job-seekers and support for the elderly.