Socio-Cultural Conception of Albinism and Albinos’ Access to Modern Healthcare Services: Narratives from the Field in South-West Nigeria

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 13:00
Oral Presentation
Adediran IKUOMOLA, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko Ondo State, Nigeria
Emmanuel OGUNODE, Adekunle Ajasin University, Nigeria
This study examines the cultural conception of albinism among the Yoruba ethnic group and the corollary effect on healthcare access. Specifically the study investigates the nuances endangering PWA from accessing modern healthcare services, the socio-cultural influences such as beliefs and traditions and the impact on behavioural outcomes of both PWA and medical practitioners. Using the health belief model as a theoretical framework, and a qualitative methodology in the collection of data from a cross section of 75 PWA and 30 medical practitioners, the study revealed that both medical practitioners and PWA are very much influenced and affected by the sociocultural dictates of their environment, which associate PWA as ‘spirit beings’, ‘disables’, ‘harbinger of evils and death’ and the ‘creation of the small god (Obatala), and not of the Supreme God (Olodumare)’ in the Yoruba cosmological explanation of albinism. This has a strong relationship with the perceptions and cultural stereotypes about PWA as materials for spiritual sacrifices and rituals. A situation which often put PWA away from public utilities and foster many to patronise expensive and privately owned hospitals and clinics irrespective of the cost. Other options at the mercies of PWA are: trado-medical care and home-service, clandestine and late night visitations and patronage of public hospitals. Similarly for medical practitioners, reservations and calmness towards PWA were narrated as often misinterpreted as stigma. PWA described the attitudes and services of non-medical staff in major healthcare facilities as appalling, uncomplimentary and a nightmare. Inversely, for PWA as medical professionals they highlighted their displeasures in the stylistic avoidance of non-albinos towards their services when on duties. The study concludes that PWA access to modern healthcare services are hindered by the sociocultural conceptions associated with the spiritual and derogatory attributes of who an albino is in Nigeria.