Awareness On Vitiligo –  A Solution To Stigma

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There is need to raise awareness about Vitiligo, as people living with the condition are still subjected to societal stigma, negligence and rejection by the society which results to them struggling with low self esteem.

This was revealed by Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital Dermatologist Dr Neo Sekgoma during a stakeholder engagement ahead of Vitiligo Commemoration Day that was recently held in Maun.  

The commemoration which targeted those living with the condition, their families, different stakeholders involved in the management of vitiligo and the community at large was commemorated under the international theme, “Learning to Live weith Vitiligo.”  

Sekgoma noted that because of lack of knowledge on the condition, those living with vitiligo are often accused of bleaching their skin. “I call on various stakeholders and organisations to unite and help in raising awareness on Vitiligo to make it easy for the society to understand and accept those living with Vitiligo,” Dr Sekgoma urged.

She noted that though most people living with vitiligo are in Gaborone, Ngamiland has a total number of 40 patients with different Vitiligo skin disorders. As for their medical care, Sekgoma indicated that Ngamiland has two dermatologists.

Sekgoma explained that, Vitiligo occurs when skin pigment producing cells are destroyed by the body’s immune system resulting in skin patches that are of a different milky white colour on the skin.

“Vitiligo affects all races and skin colours but it tends to be more visible in people of colour, the darker the skin colour, the more prominent it will appear,” she explained.

She added that Vitiligo has different types which include the generalised type which she said is the most common in Botswana explaining that in this type a patient develops several de-pigmentation patches in their body.

“There is also another type of Vitiligo that only affects the facial features, the hands and the feet and spares other parts of the body, there is also the universal type of Vitiligo which is the most sever one that affect all parts of the body, this is when 80% of the skin’s body surface area is affected by the condition,” Dr Sekgoma explained.

Dr Sekgoma noted that there is a wide array of treatment for the condition, which can either stop the destruction of the cells, or re-pigmenting the skin on the affected areas.

A person living with Vitiligo, Mompoloki Seloka said she has faced all forms of abuse as a result of the condition. She noted that she has been discriminated against, judged and bullied for the condition that developed in 2013 when she was in primary school.

She attributed this to a lack of knowledge among the society as things change after she started writing articles on her social media page, raising awareness and educating the public about Vitiligo.

Seloka explained that skin de-pigmentation leaves the skin bare and very sensitive noting that she only uses specific lotions and skin care routine. She noted that though she gets assistance from the government hospitals, she also buys some medication to complement it. “The skin care routine is very expensive, I sometimes follow it and buy prescribed medication, however at times I’m constrained by lack of funds,” She lamented.

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