FARR opens centre to curb foetal alcohol syndrome in Western Cape
The Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) has moved into its new premises in Prince Alfred’s Hamlet, in the Western Cape. The Prince Alfreds Hamlet project consists of the Healthy Mother Healthy Baby Programme and the Prevention and Awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders programme.
These awareness and prevention programmes are of utmost importance for these communities as they are faced with a high prevalence of alcohol abuse, including in pregnant women.
The ongoing community projects, which are spearheaded by FARR and funded by the Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA) and the Anglo-American Chairman’s Fund, have been instrumental to the local as well as the surrounding communities. FARR has up-skilled and empowered community members, professional and NGO’s in the area and home based carers to spread the message of fetal alcohol syndrome prevention.
The Healthy Mother Healthy Baby (HMHB) Programme focuses on educating and support pregnant women and is targeted at all pregnant women accessing public health services, who are invited to sign up for the programme free of charge. The programme provides information and support to enable participants to enjoy safe and healthy pregnancies with a key focus on nutrition, exercise and abstinence from harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
Each woman attends four to six sessions during her pregnancy. Throughout the programme there is a strong focus on the development of the self-esteem and the importance of bonding with the unborn child. This is a key factor in the care of the baby after birth with a major impact on issues like basic child care, nutrition, child abuse and neglect and ultimately scholastic performance, juvenile crime.
Babies born to these mothers are assessed at nine months of age to determine if they have fetal alcohol syndrome as well as to gauge their general health.
“We are very excited about the programme and it is our role as FARR to help those communities in need and educate them about the dangers of consuming alcohol while pregnant and instil a sense of pride and responsibility in expectant mothers about their unborn children. We’re very grateful to the ongoing support of our sponsors, whom without them our initiatives to help needy communities would not be possible,” says Leana Oliver, CEO of FARR.
The FAS prevention model that is being used in Prince Alfred’s Hamlet project is similar to the evidence basedmodel that has been used in De Aar since 2009. In October 2011, FARR was pleased to publish a 30 percent drop in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the Northern Cape since 2002 and the first reported decrease in a FASD community prevalence rate in the world, a great testament that awareness and education and the FARR programmes have played a vital role in combating FASD.