Brno scientists create sun protection cream for albinos in Ghana

Vojtěch Kundrát, Andrea Hároníková, photo: archive of Technical University in Brno

Scientists from the Technical University in Brno have responded to an appeal to help albinos in Ghana, creating an affordable, high-factor sun protection cream that can be produced cheaply in local conditions from easily available ingredients. Money for the start-up was raised through the biggest Czech crowdfunding site HitHit which supports young artists, scientists and designers.

Vojtěch Kundrát,  Andrea Hároníková,  photo: archive of Technical University in Brno
The idea from the project emerged quite unexpectedly from a private holiday trip to Ghana. When Lukáš Houdek from the Czech Government's HateFree Culture project visited Ghana and heard about the problem local albinos face he launched a Facebook appeal aiming to collect high-protection sun creams that he could distribute among them for free. In a short space of time he collected seventy liters of 50+ sun cream but in addition to that he got an offer from Vojtěch Kundrát from the Chemical Faculty of the Technical University in Brno who said he and his colleagues would try to find a more lasting solution to the problem.

High-factor sun protection creams are available in Ghana but cost around thirty dollars apiece which is way beyond the means of many local albinos who are at extreme risk from the sun and prone to developing skin cancer as a result. So the aim was to create a reliable high-factor sun protection cream they could afford; a cream that could be produced in simple conditions, from cheap, easily available local ingredients by people without a degree in chemistry.

Vojtěch Kundrát and his colleague Andrea Hároniková soon had the answer – producing a high-quality, high-protection, cheap cream made from bamboo butter, coconut oil, avocado oil and other ingredients easily available in Ghana. A 200 milliliter tube would cost around two dollars.

The idea won immediate support on the biggest Czech crowdfunding site HitHit. Instead of the 130,000 crowns needed for the start-up in Ghana, the project collected 180,000 crowns. Production is expected to start in June of this year and Vojtech Kundrat will travel to Ghana in person to see it launched and train local employees.