ECLB LAUNCHES FOETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME CAMPAIGN
The Eastern Cape Liquor Board (ECLB) has embarked upon a Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) awareness drive which kicked off in Bethelsdorp, just outside Port Elizabeth, on November 30.
“Our own recently completed survey confirms prior studies that find South Africa has one of the highest incidences of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in the world, and the Eastern Cape the second highest level of harmful drinking among pregnant women in South Africa,” says ECLB CEO Gonza Mati.
“The ECLB has established that, where there is a high prevalence of teenage drinking while pregnant, these teens are unaware of the negative consequences of drinking liquor while pregnant,” said Mati. “We have undertaken this FASD awareness drive in the hopes of ensuring that no one remains uninformed about the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant.”
“FAS, which is the term applied to children at the severe end of the spectrum, is irreversible and the only treatment there is, is focused on managing the life-long disabilities inherent in this syndrome which include learning difficulties, behavioural problems, retarded development of language, cognitive and motor skills, impaired memory and attention deficit problems,” he explained.
The ECLB commissioned a research study “The Social and Economic Impact of Alcohol Abuse in the Eastern Cape” which states that the Eastern Cape has the second highest levels of hazardous and harmful drinking among pregnant women, following the Northern Cape. “To ensure everyone if fully aware of the dangers inherent in drinking alcohol while pregnant or even if they are planning on becoming pregnant – the ECLB will be targeting a number of areas we have identified as trouble spots for alcohol abuse in the region,” says Mati.
Children afflicted by FASD are usually underweight and of short stature. They are characterised by microcephaly (a small head circumference) and a range of facial and other physical abnormalities. Kidney and heart defects may also be present. Children also exhibit mild to moderate mental disabiliities and a range of behavioural problems. Alcohol can cross the placental membrane and is carried directly to the developing tissues of the fetus. Permanent brain damage may result.
The ECLB understands the consumption of alcohol is a way of coping with the grinding poverty faced by many South Africans. Alcohol numbs the pain of dealing with a situation from which there seems to be no escape. And, as it undertakes this awareness campaign, it calls on the various related government departments and NGO’s to join it in its efforts to eradicate FAS throughout South Africa.
For more information please contact: Nandipa Sondati, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer, 043 700 0900 and cell no: 072 6200 701