Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu hosts 9-9-9 Campaign against Foetal Alcohol Syndrome community dialogue in Keimos

Women who consume alcohol during pregnancy should be arrested, Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu tells the community of Keimoes

The community dialogues of the 9-9-9 Campaign Against Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which is championed by the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Mrs Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, are currently underway at the Cacadu Tribal Council in Umtata, Eastern Cape.

The campaign, which aims to create awareness about the dangers associated with consuming alcohol during pregnancy, is in line with the mandate of the Department of Social Development (DSD) to lead in the implementation of innovative prevention programmes to achieve the vision of a society free of drug abuse as set in the National Drug Master Plan.

According to statistics, South Africa is currently leading globally with a FAS prevalence of 6-29%. Out of 187 countries, a rate of 111 per 1,000 people are born with the condition in South Africa.

We cannot be leaders in such. We need to be achievers in positive things. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy is 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, said Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu to the community of Keimoes in the Northern Cape on day six of the nine-day long campaign.

She then encouraged the community to share their experiences with FAS at which point an elderly lady, 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. You can imagine how as twins, they are obviously compared to one another all the time. 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.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu, responding to a number of problems that were raised by the community of this small town just outside of Upington, added that there are other DSD programmes that should work hand-in-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 and mentioned the following currently-running programmes that DSD is involved in:

Binge Drinking

Behavioural Change

Under Age Drinking

Smart Drinking Squad

Don’t Drink and Walk

Drug Awareness

Children from a nearby primary school, Keimoes RK Laerskool, who joined the dialogues to entertain the participants with traditional song and dance, also expressed how they can recognise children with FAS because of their different features. They have small eyes, small faces, thin lips but their heads and ears are big. They look different, said one grade 8 pupil.

The FAS dialogues are continuing tomorrow at the Osizweni Special School, in Mpumalanga. The campaign drive in Osizweni will be different in a sense that the Department of Social Development, in partnership with the MTNSA Foundation, will also be launching computer laboratories with specialised programmes for children with FAS. The two computer centres will be at the Osizweni and Basizeni Special Schools in Embalenhle – Mpumalanga.

Source: Government of South Africa