South Africa: Carletonville Civic Centre, 04 September 2022: Marking the fourth day of the 9-9-9 Foetal Alcohol Syndrome campaign in Carletonville, today, the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Mrs Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, urged residents of Carletonville to protect unborn babies.
This, she said while addressing community members who attended the 9-9-9 Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, an advocacy initiative which seeks to mobilize communities towards protecting unborn babies by educating people, especially women of childbearing age, about the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Some of the symptoms of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome in children are facial abnormalities, learning difficulties, poor problem solving, coordination and socialization skills, stubbornness, low birth weight and growth retardation and behavioural problems, including the inability to concentrate.
“As we roll out the 9-9-9 Foetal Alcohol Syndrome campaign, my plea to you is that an alcohol-free society begins with you and me. It is in your hands to build strong and resilient families by not drinking alcohol so we may together contribute towards building an alcohol-free society. It is important for all women who are pregnant and those who wish to give birth to healthy babies to avoid alcohol drinking. The damage caused by FAS is permanent and irreversible, and children born with this condition have physical and intellectual problems,” the Deputy Minister said.
In addition, the Deputy Minister appealed to the community of Carletonville to spread the message about the dangers of drinking while pregnant as “it is possible to enjoy a non-alcoholic drink”.
One of the pregnant mothers, who preferred to be addressed as Victoria, was afforded an opportunity to share her personal experience. “I stopped drinking after realizing that I am pregnant, and I encourage mothers and future mothers to avoid drinking during pregnancy as I have seen that it is possible to protect our unborn babies. Personally, I was able to stop drinking while pregnant because I have support from my partner”.
Another pregnant mother (38) admitted to drinking alcohol during the first trimester and said she was able to stop drinking for the sake of the health and well-being of her baby.
In order to prevent the spread of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, South Africans are encouraged to make use of intervention programmes, including medical treatment, education, and awareness, as FAS can be completely prevented by not drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Women who are planning to become pregnant are encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle before pregnancy. This comprises abstaining from drinking alcohol.
The campaign is part of the coordination and implementation of the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP 2019 – 2024), which aims to build a society free of substance abuse. The NDMP’s objective can only be realized if the Department of Social Development works in collaboration with key social partners, including Communities, Traditional Leaders and Faith-Based Organizations.