The Western Cape government has identified alcohol as a game changer as with level of alcohol abuse remaining unacceptably high and the effects placing tremendous pressure on the healthcare system. Health24 reports that this is according to provincial Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo who said: “This government has seen the devastating effects of alcohol and substance abuse among the people we serve.
Mbombo noted that South Africa is one of top five heaviest drinking nations in the world, adding that it costs the government R17bn to deal with alcohol abuse. “This is exactly why we have seen the need to streamline our efforts and make alcohol and substance abuse prevention a focus.” She said that alcohol abuse places tremendous pressure on the healthcare system.
“Injuries and interpersonal violence are one of the biggest contributors to the province’s quadruple burden of disease and this is mostly due to alcohol and substance abuse related.” She said that alcohol also remains a key risk factor for injuries from road traffic accidents.
Mbombo further pointed out the impact of drinking on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), where alcohol crosses the placental barrier during pregnancy and causes severe mental and physical stunting in the foetus. This affects growth, weight, head size, facial features, brain and organ development.
She said her department intends to strengthen the first 1,000 days of life project especially in the metro. “Every pregnant mother will be tracked in the public sector from antenatal care – delivery – post natal care – up to the child’s early development.” Mbombo said the aim of this is, amongst others, to reduce smoking and harmful alcohol use in pregnancy, provide good antenatal and postnatal care while improving breastfeeding rates.Full Health24 report