LOCAL manufacturers have bemoaned lack of financial support to import ingredients used to manufacture sunscreen medication for people living with albinism.
By Our Correspondent
Speaking at the handover ceremony of sunscreen lotions to the Alive Albinism Initiative organised by CBZ in Harare yesterday, Joey Chifamba, a doctor from the Applied Dermatological Research and Innovation Centre (Adric), said there was need for the country to manufacture the sunscreen creams locally to alleviate the plight of people living with albinism.
“If we could get subsidies so that we can manufacture these products at a larger scale, it would really help people with albinism to access their products locally and at a cheaper price,” Chifamba said.
“The government had offered to help us years ago when this initiative started, but maybe now due to economic problems they cannot afford to help.”
Zimbabwe’s health institutions do not import sunscreen medication, thereby putting the lives of albinos in great danger. The University of Zimbabwe, which has been investing in the production of sunscreen products for years now, recently disclosed that it needed $5 million to sustainably manufacture the creams.
Chifamba added: “Sunscreen lotions are a problem. They are not available in public pharmacies and supermarkets like any other lotions and that’s one of the reasons why we are manufacturing these products despite financial challenges.”
He appealed to government and other willing partners to help Adric in the importation of the sunscreen medication, ingredients and equipment needed to detect skin problems early, so that people with albinism can access the products locally and at an affordable cost.
He added that the reason why they preferred manufacturing the product locally was because some imported sunscreen lotions turned out to be harmful and ineffective in Zimbabwe due to weather changes.
“Years ago we tested some of the lotions and sunscreen lotions manufactured in other countries and we found out that the lotions were ineffective and harmful to the people since weather conditions differ with regions,” he said.
“Our initiative was to develop a product specifically for albinism since in some cases it comes with many different skin conditions such as acne and dry skin.”
Eddie Mombo, CBZ principal group operations officer, said people with albinism faced a myriad of challenges that could be broadly classified into health and social categories, which is why they had chosen to help them as part of their corporate social responsibility.
“Alive Albinism Initiative highlighted that their skins needs special care, which is very expensive, so as the CBZ Holdings, our Social Club staff undertook to generously contribute on a monthly basis towards a fund for the social responsibility purpose and we identified Alive Albinism Initiative,” he said.
“Albinos face a number of challenges in life because of their condition and they require sunscreen body lotions and creams, sun hats and sunglasses.”
A mother of an albino and member of the Alive Albino Initiative, Vimbai Wafaira thanked CBZ for the donation, saying albinos found it difficult to import the creams from South Africa.
“Many thanks to CBZ Holdings for the donation. It is difficult for some of us to buy these lotions because we cannot find them anywhere in Zimbabwe and if they are available, they will be expensive and so the only option would be to buy from South Africa,” she said.
“Our government should avail these lotions to some of us so that we do not have to go as far as South Africa.”