WC Health Minister launches Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Drive.
Western Cape Health Minister launches Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Drive in Conville, George
Statement By Dr Nomafrench Mbombo
Sunday, 9 September marks Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder Day; a day where we create awareness amongst expectant mothers to avoid the use of alcohol while pregnant.
The crucial message we took into the Conville community was simple: The impact of FASD on children, is irreversible. Drinking while pregnant is a massive injustice to an unborn child.
FASD is fully preventable, but yet it continues to be a serious health issue in the Western Cape due to women continuing to consume alcohol during their pregnancy. The severe impact of alcohol to an unborn child cannot be stressed enough.
The communities most affected are often impoverished, poorly educated and socially deprived in the Western Cape.
In the Western Cape the syndrome is seen as part of the wider problem of alcohol abuse that carries a huge overall burden of disability.
Raising the awareness through public campaigns is the first and very important step towards prevention.
“Today, I visited the homes of expectant mothers 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
Problem drinking and its associated negative consequences remain a substantial health, social and economic burden to the province. Alcohol causes more social harms resulting in dysfunctional families, contributes to the breakdown in family units, rise in gang related activities, negative impact on community safety, and overall decline in social cohesion.
Evidence shows young people experiment with alcohol before experiencing with any other substance. One can easily see this trend based on the amount of young people who drink before the legal age in our communities. Very often teenagers including adults of legal drinking age fall pregnant without knowing and continue to consume alcohol.
It therefore requires a concerted effort to fight alcohol abuse and curb harm caused to millions of people in the province. That is why the Western Cape Government has dedicated the Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Changer to address this scourge which requires the whole-of-society through Provincial Strategic goal 3. PSG3 focuses on increasing wellness and safety, and to tackle social ills.
The Department of Health, Transport and Public Works, Community Safety, Social Development and Cultural Affairs and Sport are working together to achieve this.
However, it needs commitment from communities, and families to curb underage drinking, illegal shebeens, responsible supply by industry and effective policing and municipal by laws to aid in fighting the scourge of alcohol abuse.
The onus is on all of us to effect the much needed changes in our communities and in the Western Cape.