Alcohol abuse alarm
High incidence of foetal syndrome in farming areas a big concern
Social Development MEC Dr Pumza Dyantyi has raised deep concern about the high incidence of foetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) in farming areas stretching from Joubertina into the Langkloof.
Dyantyi’s department is pumping money into quelling the syndrome in this region, which is known to be rife with alcoholism.
In addition, in a shock finding, researchers looking into alcohol dependence in Kirkwood and Nelson Mandela Bay found that 39% of men and 19% of women aged between 19 and 34 had harmful levels of alcohol dependence.
Dyantyi said yesterday studies indicated that about 75% of pregnancies in South Africa were unplanned and therefore were often confirmed extremely late.
This can result in some women consuming alcohol without knowing they are pregnant.
Dyantyi said this had serious implications on the educational, psychosocial and economic wellbeing of the affected children, their families and the community at large.
South Africa has the highest prevalence rate of FASD in the world.
Since last year, the Department of Social Development has spent R250 000 to support the Valk Project – a community-based prevention initiative – to quell FASD in the Langkloof.
The project organises training for farm workers and holiday camps where people are educated on the dangers of alcohol abuse.
Social Development spokesman Mzukisi Solani said a further R1-million had been set aside for substance abuse prevention programmes in the province.
The study, which pointed to harmful levels of alcohol dependence in the Bay and Kirkwood, was done by researchers from Nelson Mandela University as part of a research project to identify barriers to healthcare and the right to health for people with mental illness.
The study, published at the end of last year, identified a new risk group – men who used child and disability grants to fund their drinking.
It found that these men had higher odds of risky behaviour than those with a salary or a wage, or even men with no formal income.
“This may imply that the ease of availability and affordability of alcohol in various forms, such as home and local brew, in many poor settings . . . could make income less of an issue,” the study found.
“Men with a secondary school certificate also presented high odds of having an alcohol abuse problem.
“Other explanations for the high rates could be attributed to macro-level factors such as socioeconomic development, social modernisation and urbanisation and changes in cultural beliefs.”
It also found that women who were widowed or single, lacked an education and had no social support from friends when ill were also more at risk of alcohol abuse.
Researchers said alcohol abuse levels were much higher than those presented in the South African Stress and Health study from 2004...