MMH Commitment to diversity and inclusion
Addressing rare conditions and actively supporting marginalized communities has always been important to Boehringer Ingelheim. Since 2004, Boehringer Ingelheim has participated in the EURORDIS Round Table of Companies to raise awareness of rare conditions such as Cerebral palsy, Scleroderma, Albinism, and others and the impact they have on affected persons. Under the umbrella of the Making More Health initiative, Boehringer Ingelheim since July 2019 started to engage in Kenya directly “on the ground” and to empower people with albinism in many ways and in close collaboration with local NGOs, social entrepreneurs, and albinism communities.
The stigmatization of people with albinism is very high in African societies due to visual disability associated with the condition and pale color that makes people with albinism stand out. The marginalization for people with albinism is obvious and being a person with albinism means often to become a victim of superstition, discrimination, and violence. Often, people with this condition and their families, live close to the poverty line. They have few or no treatments available; they are unable to get jobs and not well integrated in schools and in public. There is a lack of knowledge and awareness about the albinism condition in society.
Making More Health as an initiative by Boehringer Ingelheim and Ashoka, wants to create healthier communities and sustainable ecosystems of change through social innovation. MMH has committed resources in rural Kenya to create a fully inclusive society that supports the wellbeing of people with albinism. Our goal is to create an inclusive society that integrates and supports people with albinism by demystifying myths about the condition through leveraging education and raising public awareness. Together with our local partner NGOs Positive Exposure- Kenya, located in Nairobi and Golden Age Albinos Support Program (GAASP), located in Webuye we are committed to making a real change for better happen.
Using a similar social support model as PE-Kenya, together with our partner GAASP we have created five albinism social support groups that currently have 85 members comprising men, women, and children. Members meet monthly to offer mental support, share knowledge on health-related topics as well as engage in economic self-development activities e.g. liquid soap production, poultry farming, animal husbandry, artwork, and bead making. MMH also supports the ‘Supporting Entrepreneurship and Economic Development’ (SEED) project that targets households impacted by albinism to equip them with skills and to become economically self-reliant. We work together with our communities on solutions to meet their albinism specific needs like eye care and skin care. MMH employees engage in training our communities on the ground, co-create, and develop materials that are shared then within the network of partners.
In collaboration with our partners, we have implemented initiatives to create a conducive learning environment for students with albinism by educating school administration, teachers, and students on the condition. Together with Positive Exposure, we ensured 30 students with albinism who previously enrolled in special schools attend regular schools and provided with reasonable accommodations like prescription glasses, telescopes, and large prints. We provide mentorship to these students who eventually they compete nationally with outstanding performances.
These achievements show that persons with albinism are made to shine when a conducive environment is provided to nurture their talents and skills. Beyond the International Albinism Awareness Day on June 13th , we aim to create a sustainable platform for dissemination of information regarding the albinism condition and other health-related topics on my.makingmorehealth.org . We are proud to accomplish these milestones with the support and collaboration of our partner Positive Exposure-Kenya and call upon other corporates, individuals and interested stakeholders to collaborate with us to create a fully inclusive society that embraces diversity and inclusion of all persons.
To celebrate this year's International Albinism Awareness Day, Positive Exposure-Kenya organizes a all-day Live Session on Saturday, June 13. Under the theme #MadeToShine, there will be engaging discussions on albinism together with a member of the Making More Health Initiative. For further information visit the Facebook page of Positive Exposure – Kenya @PExposureKE.