South Africa: Community Mobilization Against FASD
Best practice to mobilize the community against Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in South African West Coast region: New partnership trains youth to fight fetal alcohol disorder, as latest study shows massive burden.
The provincial department of Social Development has launched a new youth development initiative to boost the fight against Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the West Coast region.
The 15 young people trained will be deployed as community workers into the farming communities on the West Coast. They’ll run a set of integrated activities, such as:
- public education,
- school holiday programs,
- leadership development,
- teenage substance use prevention and
- anti-FASD interventions, including linking pregnant mothers, who may be using alcohol, to health and counselling services.
A recent study found the prevalence of FASD in the South Africa’s West Coast at 64 children per 1000 affected. FASD is preventable. Prevention is essential as FASD is incurable and is placing a massive burden on South African families, communities and overall society.
Massive FASD burden in South Africa
The latest global statistics on FASD prevalence indicate for South Africa a troubling reality. Out of 187 countries, a study found that South Africa has the highest prevalence rate of FASD, at 111 per 1,000 people. These findings should come as a warning signal to national and local authorities to urgently act on the condition.
Similar research into FASD by the Foundation of Alcohol-Related Research (FARR) found that at least three million people in the country are affected by FAS, with about six million affected by FASD.
A 2016 study by the foundation assessed grade one learners in 17 towns across three provinces: Gauteng, Western and Northern Cape. The organisation discovered that FAS was prevalent in 29 to 290 per 1,000 live births.
FASD is an umbrella term used for a group of permanent, life-long and irreversible conditions caused by the effects of alcohol on a foetus. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the most severe condition with at least two characteristic facial features, growth retardation in terms of height and weight, a smaller head circumference and central nervous system damage with neurodevelopmental delays, The Huffington Post reports.
FASD poses a major challenge to the development of children and, later, adults.
I am proud of the partnership with the department, as it brings social services closer to communities,” said LGO head manager Johan van de Hoven explaining that the initiative greatly expands the organization’s impact and reach.
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