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Hot Periods Contribute to High Cancer Prevalence among Persons with Albinism in Malawi

It is estimated that there are hundreds of people with albinism in rural areas of Malawi who have skin cancer but cannot access diagnosis or treatment because hospitals lack the capacity. When patients with suspected cancer are finally diagnosed as having the disease, they are sent to one of three referral hospitals in the country – Kamuzu, Queen Elizabeth and Mzuzu Central – where only pain relief is on offer. None of the three hospitals have any oncologists. In Malawi the climate crisis has been exacerbated by huge deforestation, and the country has seen longer hot and dry seasons. In the past two decades, average temperatures have risen regularly. With almost 140,000 people in the country living with albinism, and 85% of them in poor rural areas, the heating climate has a direct impact on their skin and health. The Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) says there is a lack of access to medication, sunscreen and early-stage cancer screening because of the absence of any dermatology or ophthalmology services in rural health facilities.