Fe­tal al­co­hol syn­dro­me: mi­nis­ter laun­ches dri­ve

Knysna-Plett Herald - - News | Nuus - S­taff re­por­ter

Fe­tal al­co­hol spectrum dis­or­der (FASD) is ful­ly pre­ven­ta­ble, yet it con­ti­nues to be a se­ri­ous he­alth is­sue in the We­stern Ca­pe due to so ma­ny wo­men con­su­ming al­co­hol du­ring their preg­nan­cy.

For this re­a­son, We­stern Ca­pe he­alth mi­nis­ter Dr No­m­afrench M­bom­bo laun­ched a Fe­tal Al­co­hol Syn­dro­me dri­ve on Sun­day 9 Sep­tem­ber – which al­so mar­ked in­ter­na­ti­o­nal FASD day – to cre­a­te a­wa­re­ness a­mong ex­pec­tant mot­hers to a­void the use of al­co­hol du­ring preg­nan­cy, the cru­ci­al mes­sa­ge to the com­mu­ni­ty being that the im­pact of FASD on child­ren is ir­re­ver­si­ble and that drin­king whi­le preg­nant is a mas­si­ve in­jus­ti­ce to an un­born child.

The se­ve­re im­pact of al­co­hol to an un­born child can­not be stres­sed e­nough, the mi­nis­ter said. The com­mu­ni­ties most af­fected in the pro­vin­ce are of­ten im­po­ve­ris­hed, poor­ly e­du­ca­ted and so­ci­al­ly de­pri­ved, and the syn­dro­me is seen as part of the wi­der pro­blem of al­co­hol a­bu­se that car­ries a hu­ge o­ver­all bur­den of di­sa­bi­li­ty.

M­bom­bo, who emp­ha­si­sed that rai­sing a­wa­re­ness through pu­blic cam­paigns is the first and very im­por­tant step to­wards pre­ven­ti­on, vi­si­ted ho­mes of ex­pec­tant mot­hers in Con­vil­le, George to high­lig­ht the im­por­tan­ce of a­voi­ding al­co­hol du­ring preg­nan­cy.

Al­co­hol a­bu­se re­sults in dys­functi­o­nal fa­mi­lies and con­tri­bu­tes to the bre­ak­do­wn in fa­mi­ly u­nits, the ri­se in gang-re­la­ted acti­vi­ties, the ne­ga­ti­ve im­pact on com­mu­ni­ty sa­fe­ty, and o­ver­all de­cli­ne in so­ci­al co­he­si­on.

“E­vi­den­ce shows that young pe­op­le ex­pe­ri­ment with al­co­hol be­fo­re any ot­her sub­stan­ce. One can e­a­si­ly see this t­rend ba­sed on the num­ber 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,” M­bom­bo said.

A young mot­her from Con­cor­dia, Bu­kel­wa Ma­san­go, who ga­ve birth to a child with the syn­dro­me three y­e­ars ago, said she wis­hes she was ex­po­sed to the in­for­ma­ti­on w­hen she was preg­nant with her daug­h­ter.

“I ho­pe ex­pec­tant mot­hers can ma­ke the con­s­ci­ous de­ci­si­on to choo­se their child­ren and pro­tect them no mat­ter w­hat the ci­r­cum­stan­ces be­cau­se on­ce they ha­ve the syn­dro­me the­re is no tur­ning back,” she said. –

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