Healthy Mother – Healthy Baby Programme

In 2000, the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) received an invitation from the Department of Health to conduct a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Prevalence Study in De Aar. During this study (2001 – 2003), it was reported that12,2% of the babies born in De Aar were affected by FASD. This firmly secured De Aar on the universal map as the town with the highest reported FASD rate in the world.
Since 2006, FARR has intensified its efforts to raise awareness in De Aar about the teratogenic effects of pre-natal alcohol use on the fetus and to motivate women of reproductive years to plan their pregnancies. This has culminated in FARR implementing their evidence based Healthy Mother Healthy Baby (HMHB) Programme.
This programme has been developed in line with the WHO and Department of Health’s Policies; the Department of Social Development’s Substance Abuse Strategy; and the National Millennium Development Goals. It was acknowledged by both departments, but the departments indicated that they do not have the knowledge, skills, or capacity to incorporate this initiative into their existing service delivery models.
In order to make it more sustainable, FARR initiated a review of the HMHB programme. As a result, a refined version of this programme has been developed, which renders it more cost and time effective, and increasingly user-friendly for the government departments. This revised model is presently being piloted in De Aar.
To date, the HBHM Programme has been extremely successful: it has resulted in a 30% drop in the incidence of FASD in De Aar. De Aar is consequently now also the first community in the world with a reduction in a FASD prevalence rate.
A lower incidence of FASD accordingly relates to a reduction of neonatal and infant mortality rates, as well as fewer children with developmental delays, mental retardation, and poor scholastic performance and behavioural problems. This thus leads to a community that is now able to socially and economically contribute to society. In addition, there is a strong emphasis on the development of the self-esteem of the mothers in the programme. As a result of the HMHB programme, mothers are better equipped to deal with children and babies who already have FAS, and learn the importance of the prevention thereof.
Through the REIPPPP, Solar Capital have been able to fund the Healthy Mother – Healthy Baby Programme for the past 2 years. Solar Capital is proud to announce that FARR and their HMHB programme have won various national and international awards, and offer therapeutic services that are not even available in SA in the private sector.
Government structures that have incorporated the HMHB programme into their service delivery models
FARR implemented a similar HMHB programme in Prince Alfred’s Hamlet (PAH) in the Western Cape from 2012 – 2014.  During the three year project, training was given to practitioners within the Departments of Health and Social Development. At the end of the project, the Department of Health appointed one of the FARR Community Workers to continue the HMHB programme work from the PAH clinic. The health professionals are consequently using this programme as part of their antenatal service delivery at present, and the initial “FARR” Community worker is still in the service of the PAH Clinic. 
FARR follows the training of health care professionals on all of their project sites as to develop their skills in terms of FASD Awareness and Prevention, and to encourage them to use the HMHB programme concepts in their daily service delivery. If you visit the Western Cape Department of Health’s website, you will find FASD information on the website that was obtained from FARR. Unfortunately the other provincial and national websites are very outdated and do not contain info about FASD, except International FASD Day (9 Sept). 
NGO’s that have included FASD prevention in their programmes
Since their inception in 1997, FARR is the first NGO to raise awareness regarding FASD in SA. As a result of the publication of the first scientific articles about FARR’s research findings (1999 onwards), a number of FASD NGO’s have been established in the Western and Northern Cape Province.
Solar Capital have funded the Healthy Mother – Health Baby Programme over the past 2 years with donations of R 2.1 million.