the dti to Observe International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Day in Kuruman, Northern Cape

The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) will observe the International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Day (FADS) with the aim of intensifying awareness of and educating young people and women of child bearing age in particular about the harmful effects of alcohol abuse during pregnancy. The event will take place in Kuruman, Northern Cape on 8 September 2018, under the theme No Amount of Alcohol is Safe During Pregnancy.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are a group of conditions that can occur in an individual whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy. The most severe form of the condition is known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Problems may include an abnormal appearance, short height, low body weight, small head size, poor coordination, low intelligence, behavioural problems, and problems with hearing and sight.

According to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, South Africa is a developing country where alcohol consumption is associated with party spirit. He said 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.

According to FARR (Foundation for Alcohol Related Research), in South Africa approximately 78% of pregnancies are unplanned. As a result of this, women often do not realise that they are pregnant and therefore continue to use alcohol, especially during the first trimester (3 months of pregnancy). This is a very vulnerable time for the fetus as most of the organs develop during this period. Due to a variety of reasons, such as unplanned pregnancies, limited resources, attitudinal challenges and lack of knowledge, women often visit antenatal services very late during their pregnancies and therefore further delay the possibility of getting information about FASD and the necessary support.

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, says Davies.

The International FADS Day is commemorated annually on 9 September across the globe to enhance awareness of the dangers of consuming alcohol while pregnant. The event is part of the dti’s Sobriety Campaign whose purpose is to raise awareness on the high-risk behavioural activities related to alcohol abuse such as violence, risky sexual activities, and the spread of HIV/AIDS, and encourage behavioural change by offering alternatives in the form of government services aimed at empowering communities, including women and children.

Source: Department of Trade and Industry