FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder)

FARR - Foundation for Alcohol-Related Research

In Kimberley, FARR was able to train close to 200 professionals during its three-year project. Now there are people within the community equipped to continue the work in combating the incidence of FASD.

FARR, established in 1997, is South Africa's leading NGO source of research and information on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and its societal impact. Going into vulnerable communities on a by-invitation-only basis, it runs detection and intervention programmes in many parts of South Africa. The Distell Foundation is a major funder of FARR and recently co-funded a three-year FASD social awareness, prevention and training project in Kimberley that was concluded earlier this year.

FARR routinely prefaces such initiatives with studies undertaken to understand the extent of FASD within the communities where it is engaging. These diagnoses provide the foundation on which to build its awareness, prevention and training drives.

Before embarking on the Kimberley project, the NGO undertook a prevalence study in the metropole's two biggest residential areas, Galeshewe and Roodepan. Together these two communities account for about 80% of the city's population. It was found that for every 1 000 children tested in the study, 60 presented with FAS, the worst possible form of FASD.

FARR CEO Leana Olivier says that an incidence of 6% is consistent with what the national Department of Health believes is the prevalence rate in South Africa. However, particularly disturbing was to find that for the first time, new patterns of alcohol abuse were evident amongst young black women, a group never previously considered to have been at risk. This has been attributed to a migration towards the cities, a weakening of social support structures, as well as changes in social mores.

FARR's work also involved training community members to share the message of not drinking during pregnancy to create a supportive, safe and enabling environment for those women willing to change their behaviour.

A central feature of FARR's evidence-based intervention is what it terms its "Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby Programme" a wellness initiative that involves all pregnant women willing to participate, whether they drink or not, in learning how to maintain their own health and so promote that of their unborn babies.
The programme includes a post-birth assessment of the children at nine months' old, so children with symptoms of FASD or any other health and/or psycho-social challenges can be directed towards appropriate support from the local medical, social and educational authorities.

As industrial theatre is a potent instrument in raising community awareness in a non-threatening, accessible and entertaining way, FARR partnered with the takeAWAY theatre group to perform a number of its Liefdeskind shows in Kimberley.  Such theatre also provides a good platform to highlight the role of men in supporting their partners and sisters in not drinking during pregnancy.

FARR's training academy, targeting health professionals, social workers, community leaders and educators, gives these influencers a more detailed understanding of FASD and exposes them to the measures it has developed to support mothers and children and to encourage prevention.

In Kimberley, the organisation was able to train close to 200 professionals during its three-year project. Now there are people within the community equipped to continue the work in combating the incidence of FASD.

FARR SA

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