SAN DIEGO and RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., March 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Stiefel, a GSK company, announced today that Hats On For Skin Health, its global campaign with the International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS), has raised enough funds to produce 15,000 sun-protective hats for albinos living in East Africa and has already distributed more than 2,000 hats. The hats are being distributed from Tanzania, where estimates are that 98 percent of albino children will die before the age of 40 from cancers of the skin a direct result of the sun's damaging rays. Worldwide, albinism affects about one in 20,000 people. However the incidence of albinism in Sub-Saharan Africa is significantly higher than in the rest of the world, specifically in Tanzania where the incidence is one in 1,429.(1)
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Earlier this year, campaign leaders from Stiefel and ILDS visited Tanzania to introduce Hats On For Skin Health to medical professionals attending the 17th International Conference of the Regional Dermatology Training Center (RDTC). This annual conference brings together more than 200 local RDTC graduates and healthcare officers from across the African continent and the world for a series of educational trainings and presentations. Thousands of hats produced through the Hats On For Skin Health campaign were distributed to these healthcare workers at the conference with the intent that they be given to albinos in their home regions.
"Ensuring that the hats were distributed to local healthcare workers was crucial, as they are on the front line treating skin conditions throughout the surrounding regions, including treating people with albinism," said Professor Roderick Hay, Chairman of the International Foundation for Dermatology (IFD), the charitable arm of the ILDS. "Graduates of the RDTC are trained to educate albinos about preventing sun damage, but are often working with limited resources to help these patients. Now they have hats to provide to their patients free of charge as a result of the funds raised through Hats On For Skin Health."
Since the launch of the Hats On For Skin Health campaign last May, Stiefel has worked with Professor Hay and the ILDS as they identified a local Tanzanian-based manufacturing company to produce the hats for the campaign. The manufacturer selected by ILDS was specifically chosen because the company employs a diverse workforce including people with albinism, offering them the opportunity to work indoors away from the sun. The hats are designed to be sturdy for long-lasting use and feature a wide brim that offers protection to the face, neck and ears.
"Stiefel is proud of the Hats On For Skin Health campaign and the excellent dermatological care being provided by the RDTC to albinos in desperate need," said Stefanie Mendell, Head of Global Communications for Stiefel, a GSK company. "As a global leader in dermatology, Stiefel is committed to helping improve the skin health of people around the world."
In addition to support from ILDS, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has assisted the Hats On For Skin Health campaign by making information about the campaign available on its website, and by accepting donations in the United States for the campaign.
"By promoting the campaign's fundraising success during the Academy's 2012 Annual Meeting, we hope to inspire the wider dermatology community to support these efforts. We must arm healthcare professionals in sub-Saharan Africa with resources to help their patients with albinism better protect their skin," said Mary Maloney, MD, professor of medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School. "As a member and former officer of the AAD, I'm glad to see the Academy continue to increase its efforts to collaborate with other societies in support of worldwide initiatives with campaigns like Hats On For Skin Health."
To learn more about the campaign or to make a donation that will be used to purchase hats or other sun-protective items for albinos in Tanzania, visit http://www.hatsonforskinhealth.org and follow Stiefel on Facebook and Twitter. For additional media materials including video and photographs please visit http://www.multivu.com/mnr/55030-stiefel-gsk-ilds-hats-on-for-skin-health-campaign-east-africa.
Albinism is the genetic inability to produce the pigment melanin in the skin, hair and eyes, resulting in pale skin, light hair, pinkish eyes and impaired vision. Melanin serves as the skin's own natural protection against the sun's ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Without melanin, a person is predisposed to various types of solar skin damage, including aggressive forms of skin cancers.(1) In Tanzania, 100 percent of albinos show signs of sun damage to their skin within the first ten years of life and between the ages of 20-30 years, half will have advanced skin cancers. As a result, less than 2 percent of albino children in Tanzania reach their 40th birthday. Although, recent studies have shown this lifespan can be extended when measures are taken to protect skin from the sun. (1)
Worldwide, albinism affects about one in 20,000 people. However, the incidence of albinism in sub-Saharan Africa is significantly higher than in the rest of the world, and Tanzania has one of the highest rates of all with an incidence of one in 1,429, or approximately 30,000 people. There are many precautionary steps that can be taken to help prevent skin cancer, including health education about sun avoidance, sun protection through use of sun blocks and skin coverage provided by clothing such as hats and long sleeves.(1)
About The International League of Dermatological Societies
The International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS) is a non-governmental organization that is composed of all of the major international and national Dermatology societies of the world, and has official relations with the World Health Organization. ILDS was formed to: stimulate the cooperation of societies of Dermatology and societies interested in all fields of cutaneous medicine and biology throughout the world; encourage the worldwide advancement of Dermatological education, care, and sciences; promote personal and professional relations among the Dermatologists of the world; represent Dermatology in commissions and international health organizations; and organize a World Congress of Dermatology every four years. The International Foundation for Dermatology (IFD) was established by the ILDS to provide a growing program to improve the care of skin disease in underserved areas of the developing world. IFD successfully built the Regional Dermatology Training Center in Moshi, Tanzania, which trains leaders among allied health workers and doctors from the surrounding regions.
About The American Academy of Dermatology
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or www.aad.org. Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or Twitter (@AADskin).
About Stiefel, a GSK company
Stiefel, a GSK company, is committed to advancing Dermatology and skin science around the world in order to help people better achieve healthier skin. Stiefel's dedication to innovation, along with its focus on pharmaceutical, over-the-counter and aesthetic Dermatology products, has established Stiefel as a world leader in the skin health industry. To learn more about Stiefel, visit www.stiefel.com.
References: 1. Andres Cruz-Inigo, Barry Ladizinski, Aisha Sethi. Albinism in Africa: Stigma, Slaughter and Awareness Campaigns. Dermatol Clin. 2011; 29: 79-87