Do your bit to stop foetal alcohol syndrome

ENTRIES are invited for the Northern Cape Schools Essay Competition on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, writes Victor Mecoamere.

ENTRIES are invited for the Northern Cape Schools Essay Competition on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, writes Victor Mecoamere.

This call is made by non-governmental organisation FASfacts on the eve of World FAS Day this week. They urge South Africans to take drastic steps to combat FAS.

FASfacts have said that about 25000 babies are born with FAS each year. This is the highest reported incidence in the world.

FASfacts chief executive Francois Grobbelaar said the disease was one of the main causes of severe mental disabilities and stunted physical growth in babies.

"Drastic steps need to be taken to curb and erode this perfectly preventable disability."

Launched on August 21 at Tshireletsho High School in Galeshewe, Kimberley, Northern Cape Schools Essay Competition on FAS is spearheaded by Kimberley Hospital's human genetics unit and the Northern Cape healthdepartment.

Open to pupils in grades 10 to 12, it is designed to tackle the problem in the province. It is supported by Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation. Northern Cape has the highest prevalence of FAS in South Africa, particularly in the town of De Aar.

It is hoped that the competition will challenge young people to think seriously about the consequences of alcohol abuse and research and creative their writing skills.

Write an essay of not more than 1000 words on one of these topics:

l What is FAS, and its cause, symptoms and complications?;

l What can we do to prevent FAS?;

l What is the effect of FAS on the economy of South Africa?; or

l Is teenage pregnancy a contributing factor to FAS, and why?

Enclose your name, surname, grade, age, name of school, address and telephone numbers, home address and telephone number, or parent or guardian's cellphone number, plus school's stamp.

Send entries to: The Northern Cape Schools Essay Competition on FAS, c/o Ms S Peterson, Kimberley Hospital, Private Bag X 5021, Kimberley, 8300

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