100% preventable
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

South Africa has the world’s highest rate of people suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome.Current statistics show that one in four women regularly consume large quantities of alcohol. However, even small amounts can have dramatic consequences. Daily life in the townships of South Africa brings many hardships. Poverty, social grievances and violence let alcohol seem like the last resort to make life a little more bearable.

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Such an incredibly important issue for each individual fate as well as for society as a whole must be part of our paediatric training. If the mother abstains from consuming any alcohol during pregnancy, this disease is completely preventable.

We brought with us a renowned specialist and expert in this field, Ms. Heike Wolter (MD). She manages the special consultation for FASD patients in cooperation with Prof. Ludwig Spohr at the University Hospital Charité in Berlin.

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We dedicate a whole afternoon to discuss and raise awareness of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.Educating local nursery school teachers about the symptoms and the continuing suffering. They have heard that alcohol during pregnancy is harmful and that the children might be a little smaller and weaker. However, they were unaware of how dramatic the damage can be. Severe organ damage, deformities, delays in development and behavioural disorders and most of all serious cognitive impairments are a direct result of alcohol intake during pregnancy. In addition, many people often can’t live their lives without external help and struggle to overcome the never ending cycle of crime and addiction.

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Together, we watched a film about a girl with FAS. She has difficulties in school, struggles with language problems and is unable to tell the time because she doesn't grasp the meaning of numbers. As a consequence she faces social isolation and can’t make any friends. She is therefore often taken advantage of and suffers daily abuse. It is clear that even in the small Funimfundo nursery school, some children evidently suffer from their mothers’ alcohol consumption. The nursery school teachers are visibly moved and together we start working on a strategy to reach out to the parents.

Education is the only chance to fight this disease!

Regina, an occupational therapist is also involved with the training. She advises schools, homes, and nursery schools in Stanford and together with Ms. Wolter, she addresses the special requirements of these children. It is extremely important to offer them the structure in their daily life that they can not access themselves. They require assistance with all daily routines and are lost amidst the chaos of various sensory information that continuously affect them.

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We are very fortunate to welcome Immanuel to our seminars. He is the traditional healer of the community and thereby the most important contact person to people within the township, regarding all health related questions. He is an essential mediator between cultures and supports our approach to build cultural bridges between South African traditions and a scientifically oriented, complementary understanding of medicine.

Thus we learn - together, from one another and for each other -  to improve the children’s health. They are in need of our affection and support because they are the weakest, most vulnerable link of society but at the same time its most valuable treasure.

Simply, they are our future.
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