FAS Awareness Day: Ministers conduct oversight visits in Atlantis
The Western Cape Government marked Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day with an oversight visit in Atlantis.
The Western Cape Health Minister of Health, Dr. Nomafrench Mbombo, and Minister of Social Development, Albert Fritz, joined by NGO partners from the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) and [insert other NGO name here], visited the Protea Park Clinic, which renders anti-FASD services including community workers who raise awareness in the surrounding community.
The Ministers also visited the Orion Wilge Daycare Centre, a DSD funded early childhood development centre, which serves children with special needs, including FAS affected children.
FASD refers to the disorders that develop in an unborn baby if the mother consumes alcohol during the pregnancy. The alcohol consumed is absorbed into the blood stream, and is poisonous to the foetus, affecting its organs. Babies are usually born with physical and mental disabilities, which severely affect their life chances.
The impact of FASD on children is irreversible, and drinking while pregnant is a massive injustice to an unborn child.
FASD is fully preventable, but yet it continues to affect children in the Western Cape due to pregnant women who consume alcohol during their pregnancy.
According to research conducted by FARR, South Africa has the highest incidences of FASD in the world. Some 6 million people in South Africa are irrevocably affected by having been exposed to alcohol in the womb. The Western Cape is particularly affected by the most serious form of FASD, namely Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
A 2016 study funded by DSD indicated that the prevalence of FASD in the West Coast was 64 children per 1000 affected (6,42%). This can be compared to the findings in the other recent studies conducted in Kimberley (60/1000) and the Witzenberg area (96/1000). However the prevalence rate of 122/1000 found in De Aar
Raising the awareness through public campaigns is the first and very important step towards prevention.
“Today, I visited the home of an expectant mother to highlight the importance of avoiding alcohol while pregnant. Under my leadership, we have identified alcohol as game changer; where the focus is on alcohol harms reduction in society, and FAS is one aspect where we need to emphasise awareness about the harms of alcohol to our children” said Minister Mbombo
The Western Cape Government cannot beat FASD alone, we need commitment from communities and families to curb underage drinking, tackle illegal shebeens, and encourage responsible supply by industry. Our communities also require effective policing and municipal by laws, to aid in fighting the scourge of alcohol abuse. 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”.
Spokesperson for Albert Fritz, Minister of Social Development
Western Cape Government
7th floor, 14 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town, 8000
Tel : (021) 483 9217
Cell : 076 083 6543
Email : Sihle.Ngobese@westerncape.gov.za