Speech of Hon S. Bappoo at Closinq Ceremony of two day workshop with RÉUNISAF on Syndrome d’Alcoolisation Fœtale

Dr Denis Lamblin of Réunisaf,
Dr. Kathia Cadinouche also of Réunisaf,
Mr. Gopee Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Security,
Mr. Medical Professionals
Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have to say that it is with great interest that I responded positively to the request of Dr. Thierry Maillard, Chairman of RÉUNISAF for a collaborative project to develop a program to fight against the effects of fetal Alcohol Mauritius.
The topic appeared at the right moment to me especially when we know that alcoholism among women is, these days, is taking worrying proportions in the world and even Mauritius is not spared.

This is due to the famous mail of Dr. Maillard dated November 17 that everything has been engaged to lead the visit of Dr. Denis Lamblin and that of Dr. Kathia Cadinouche, who I thank for having sacrificed some of their time to come and share their knowledge of Fetal alcohol Syndrome.
The purpose of the visit of our experts was initially to do a survey and assessment of the state of affairs in Mauritius concerning Fetal Alcohol Syndrom.
In this context, meetings with professionals and institutions concerned were on the program, as well as visits of existing medical and social structures.
And I’m pleased to hear from those who were part of it that the experiment was successful in both directions in many ways.
Then we were treated to a presentation of the issue of the effects of alcohol on the fetus.
Ultimately, it will create a network of public health between the countries so that everyone share thair experiences to generate greater awareness and ultimately, develop a program of effective control is reached.

So for my part, I believe that the purpose of the first phase of a project that seems to be in the duration is reached.

What leads me to this conclusion would you say?

First of all, because after this visit, we can better understand what exactly the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is and especially the detrimental and irreversible effects it brings among the victims in the short, medium and long term, if nothing is done.
Then, because we are more aware of the potential danger posed to society by the cycle of alcoholism meanders and therefore inviting us to react.
I’m not an expert on the subject, but it is a fact that alcoholism among women has for long been taboo.
Whereas in men, it is normal and they do not hide. Is it false modesty, a woman hides her guilt of the alcohol addiction? I confess I do not know which of these two moods dictate behavior, but is it always the women who have this bias for the bottle, get drunk, mostly in secret. Likely to escape the disapproving glances of a company, often macho.

But the fact is that more and more women drink and the phenomenon of the feminization of poverty is getting bigger, the problem is going to get tougher.
So now imagine the case of a woman, moreover pregnant and who is an alcoholic, how it will be difficult or even almost impossible to admit her pain.
That’s why with an early detection of pregnancy symptoms designed and macerated in alcohol we can possibly avoid the worst, ie damaged babies, mothers atrophied and suffering.
As such, I must once again thank the team of REUNISAF for opening our eyes to see the signs of the real social time bomb that is the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
I propose that the program can be extended to Rodrigues where there is an acute alcohol problem but where there is a large parallel network of NGOs actively involved in the fight against this growing trouble.
I have personally witnessed the situation during a visit I made to the island last year. There is even an association of wives of former drinkers who are struggling to keep their husbands away from the bottle.
I therefore urge the NATRESA which also have done a considerable work on prevention both in terms of substance abuse, to include this new component, FAS, in their campaign.
The NATRESA could also oversee the project FAS Rodrigues and organize a workshop of this kind.
Having a pregnancy with zero alcohol , this is what we must now work for now that we know the effects of FAS.
And I think it is high time to end the hypocrisy of slogans that encourage the consumption of alcohol in moderation, because we understand that whatever the dose taken, alcohol anyway cause irreparable damage to the fetus. So rather than hide behind the slogan one glass okay, three glasses, hello the damage we should find something more appropriate, the kind I do not know « baba au rhum, non pa li sa » , but in any case where the slogan is clear that complete abstinence for not giving birth to a child atrophied.

Anyway, the ball is now in the hands of the participants to get the message and I thank REUNISAF who make at our disposal a documentary very explicit and clear on all psycho-motor and the impact of this pathology on its victims.
For my part, I pledge to draw the attention of authorities on the importance and relevance of making a national campaign.
However, waiting for the next step in our partnership with RÉUNISAF ,God willing, our participation in December 2006 International Symposium on FAS to be held in Reunion Island, I welcome back our facilitators and the pleasure of seeing you, I wish you the courage to carry out your mission of information.
I think the project is likely to succeed at the regional level because we have a major advantage that is the size of our islands with a population density that can be easily monitored . Which will, in my opinion, enable us to reach a maximum number of individuals in a short period of time.

The time has come for action.
Thank you for your attention.