On the eve of International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) day, the Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Adv. Albert Fritz, launched the residential wing and substance abuse treatment unit at our funded NGO partner, the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women & Children in Athlone.
The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) funds the 100 bed facility, which is also the site of our innovative and successful Khuseleka Model. This 24-hour “place of refuge” for victims of crime has been allocated R3.35-million by DSD for this year.
In light of the high incidence of substance abuse, specifically alcohol, amongst the mothers and children at the centre, the addition of the substance abuse treatment unit today is most welcomed.
The Substance Abuse Unit will render treatment and detox services for 8 women at a time, and the programme used by the centre has been developed in conjunction with DSD.
The Department of Social Development is proud to be at the forefront of delivering and supporting initiatives tackling FASD in the province.
Key to our efforts in tackling the scourge is the “whole-of-society” approach, which involves building partnerships with the private sector, NGOs, and individuals in our communities.
Our efforts include a multi-pronged approach to addressing the challenge, involving the Provincial Departments of Social Development, Health, Education, and a number of NGOs.
The provincial department of Social Development is providing R58-million this year to 36 NGO partners working at 51 sites across the province, to render substance abuse treatment services.
Of this number, 3 specialist NGOs – the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR), Fas Facts, and Early Years - are funded to help reduce and prevent the harm caused by FAS. Just over R2.5-million is allocated to these 3 NGOs, which are currently assisting just over 5900 families.
Each of these NGOs assists the department in various ways;
- The FARR conducts prevalence studies on FASD and implements a Healthy Mother Healthy Baby program on the West Coast and Beaufort West. This identifies high risk pregnant women before 20 weeks of pregnancy, to assess health status, and evaluates babies born to these mothers at 9 months of age for FASD and other health problems.
- Early Years provides training and substance abuse awareness to ECD Practitioners, home based carers, and parents on how to handle children with FASD in ECD centres.
- FAS FACTS conducts the Baby on Board program in the Cape Winelands and surrounding areas. Their services include training to communities on identification of FASD and support services to individuals and families.
The department will continue to make our substance abuse treatment, victim support and women empowerment services accessible to the vulnerable segments of our society. Key to our plans will be to expand FASD awareness and treatment initiatives in Metro and other urban areas.
However the success of our interventions depends on communities and individuals working with us. Most importantly, we call on pregnant women to take responsibility for their unborn babies and to not drink alcohol. We will only be able to tackle FASD properly, if we continue to work “Better Together”.