Alcohol is killing the moral fibre of our society, and it has now reached a point where unborn babies are disabled for life due to the fact that mothers are consuming alcohol during pregnancy. This phenomena has rocked the rural town of De Aar, to point where it is now the town with the highest reported incidences of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), as it is commonly known, is severe medical condition caused by the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. When a pregnant women drinks, her unborn baby is affected by the alcohol. The alcohol she consumed is absorbed through the bloodstream.
Children with FAS are smaller in size compared to their peers and for their age, they experience learning disabilities (due to the brain damage) and interpersonal relationship problems. This is a life-long, irreversible condition, but 100% preventable if only women can abstain from the use of alcohol during the entire pregnancy.
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome has now been reduced by 30 % in the rural town of De Aar in the Province of the Northern Cape. Research conducted in De Aar showed that 120 children of a 1000 children in De Aar was diagnosed with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. De Aar is now known for the town with the highest reported incidences of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome internationally.
Due to a comprehensive FASD Prevention Programme undertaken by the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research since 2002, this rate has dropped by 30%.
Therefore as part of continuing the fight against FAS, the Department of Social Development will be embarking on a Foetal Alcohol Syndrome campaign as part of 16 Days of Activism Campaign on no violence against woman and children in Carnavon on the 27 November 2012 at the Carnovan Primary School.
The preliminary finds of the Balelapa survey indicates that of the 2045 persons interviewed in Carnavon, 1523 indicated that they are unemployed and 1075 indicated that they have no income. Unemployment and poverty are of the contributing factors for substance abuse and the situational analysis indicates that Carnavon is a high risk area for substance abuse. Statistics from the South African Police Service indicated an increase in common assault cases and drug related crimes in the area.
The aim of the campaign is therefore to
- Intensify Substance Awareness
- Raise Awareness on the Prevention of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Gather information on related needs from participants to establish a Local Drug Action Committee
We have invited 250 women of child bearing age to whom developmental presentations will be made on Feotal Alcohol Syndrome and interventions to prevent FASD , Opportunities for Women Empowerment (SEDA) and Woman and Community Safety.
The Department of Social Development will be handing out sanitary towels to schools in Carnavon as well as to any woman who needs it. This will be followed by a visit to the Rooi Miertjie Kleuter Early Childhood Development Centre in Carvanon where MEC Alvin Botes will be handing over to Educational Toys to them.