‘Change SA’s drink­ing cul­ture’

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - STAFF RE­PORTER

THE DEPART­MENT of Trade and In­dus­try (dti) has urged the liquor in­dus­try to take re­spon­si­bil­ity and drive pro­grammes that will change South Africa’s drink­ing cul­ture.

“As govern­ment, we are send­ing out a strong mes­sage to the liquor in­dus­try, liquor man­u­fac­tur­ers, distrib­u­tors and re­tail­ers to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their prod­ucts and drive pro­grammes that will change the drink­ing cul­ture in our coun­try,” the depart­ment’s chief di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Liquor Au­thor­ity (NLA), Prea Ramd­huny, said in the North­ern Cape re­cently.

Ramd­huny was speak­ing at the depart­ment’s event to ob­serve Foetal Al­co­hol Spec­trum Dis­or­der (FASD) Day in Ku­ru­man in the North­ern Cape on Fri­day.

Re­search has shown that the North­ern Cape has a high preva­lence of Foetal Al­co­hol Syn­drome (FAS).

Ramd­huny stressed that govern­ment, civil so­ci­ety and cor­po­rates had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to col­lec­tively erad­i­cate the scourge of al­co­hol abuse.

FASD is a group of con­di­tions that oc­cur in an in­di­vid­ual whose mother con­sumed al­co­hol dur­ing preg­nancy, with FAS be­ing the most se­vere form of the con­di­tion.

Prob­lems in chil­dren with FAS may in­clude an ab­nor­mal ap­pear­ance, short height, low body weight, small head size, poor co-or­di­na­tion, be­havioural prob­lems and prob­lems with hear­ing and sight.

Ramd­huny urged so­ci­ety to in­vest in and pro­tect chil­dren from al­co­hol abuse by in­ten­si­fy­ing aware­ness about the harm­ful ef­fects of al­co­hol abuse dur­ing preg­nancy.

FASD Aware­ness Day is marked around the world an­nu­ally on Septem­ber 9.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO), the an­nual liquor con­sump­tion by South Africa amounts to 7.81 litres of pure al­co­hol per per­son and the rate of con­sump­tion ranks South Africa 52nd on a list of 191 coun­tries.

“The South African govern­ment is con­cerned that South Africa is es­ti­mated to have al­co­hol con­sump­tion at a score of 4, which is riskier in a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 be­ing least risky and 5 be­ing riski­est. It is against this back­drop that we deem it sig­nif­i­cant to in­ten­sify ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness around al­co­hol and liquor abuse and drink­ing while preg­nant.

“Part­ner­ships be­tween govern­ment and com­mu­ni­ties are vital to de­crease al­co­hol in­take in South Africa,” said Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Rob Davies.

Mean­while dur­ing com­mu­nity en­gage­ments re­cently in Keimoes, the Deputy Min­is­ter of So­cial De­vel­op­ment, Hen­dri­etta Bo­gopane-Zulu, said women who con­sume al­co­hol dur­ing preg­nancy should be ar­rested.

Dur­ing com­mu­nity di­a­logues of the 9-9-9 Cam­paign Against Foetal Al­co­hol Syn­drome Bo­gopane-Zulu said con­sum­ing al­co­hol dur­ing preg­nancy was rob­bing ba­bies of their fu­ture and rob­bing our com­mu­ni­ties of even more.

“Drink­ing dur­ing preg­nancy should be a crim­i­nal of­fence. Women who drink dur­ing preg­nancy should be locked up,” Bo­gopane-Zulu told the com­mu­nity of Keimoes.

An el­derly woman, who has two grand­chil­dren born with FAS, shared her day-to-day trauma.

“My daugh­ter gave birth to twins some years ago. They both have the con­di­tion but one is worse than the other. It is enough that they both have FAS but to now also have one strug­gling more than the other makes it un­bear­able at school and at home. My daugh­ter still con­tin­ues to drink. I do not think she re­alises the dam­age she has caused. I urge the com­mu­nity to help women to stop drink­ing, es­pe­cially dur­ing preg­nancy,” she pleaded.

Bo­gopane-Zulu, re­spond­ing to a num­ber of prob­lems that were raised by the com­mu­nity, added that there were other DSD pro­grammes that should work handin-hand with the 9-9-9 Cam­paign in or­der for the cam­paign’s goals to be achieved.

“Be­havioural change is not a short-term ini­tia­tive. We can­not sit here and say we need women to stop drink­ing dur­ing preg­nancy and ex­pect re­sults to­mor­row. It does not work like that. We need to en­gage con­stantly and make use of avail­able pro­grammes to en­sure long-term re­sults,” she said.

‘As govern­ment, we are send­ing out a strong mes­sage to the liquor in­dus­try, liquor man­u­fac­tur­ers, distrib­u­tors and re­tail­ers to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their prod­ucts and drive pro­grammes that will change the drink­ing cul­ture in our coun­try’

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