A health intervention programme for children with albinism at a special school in South Africa

Health Educ Res. 2002 Jun;17(3):365-72. doi: 10.1093/her/17.3.365.


The genetic condition albinism has a high frequency among the Sotho people of northern South Africa. Affected children have pale hair, eyes and skin-a dramatic contrast to the normal dark pigmentation. Their visual performance is poor and many attend special schools for the visually impaired. Children with albinism experience problems that are, on the one hand, physiological, and, on the other, social-psychological and educational in nature. In this self-report study 38 children at a rural special school described their eye and skin problems, a direct result of their lack of pigmentation, as well as strategies they adopted to manage their condition. A further section of the study deals with the social adaptation difficulties experienced by these children. The questionnaire tested for local belief systems about albinism and how these impact on the socialization of children with albinism. The intervention strategy proposed in this study is based on the assumption that any attempt to address both the health and social problems should be of a holistic, interactionist nature, and be based on the values and belief systems of the local community. In addressing the physical problems, the proposed intervention programme focuses on sensible sun protection habits from a young age and the active participation of the children. To alleviate the social problems a team (interactionist) approach including children, teachers, parents, health officials and the wider community is recommended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Albinism / complications
  • Albinism / psychology*
  • Child
  • Education, Special / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Photophobia / complications
  • Photophobia / prevention & control
  • Program Development
  • Social Alienation / psychology
  • South Africa
  • Sunburn / complications
  • Sunburn / prevention & control
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use


  • Sunscreening Agents