Have you ever read the back of food labels and noticed the words: ‘Might be genetically modified’? No? Well you’re not alone. That’s how most South Africans would respond. But the reality is that many foods are genetically modified because South Africa is the world’s eighth largest GMO producer.
Alcohol is the main drug in South Africa with 30% of the population being either alcoholics or at risk of becoming so. According to WHO, South Africans drink in excess of five billion litres of alcohol per year. If that’s not bad enough, alcohol abuse tends to be a prerequisite to health problems, criminality and socio-economic burdens. But who is the abuser behind these statistics? And what can be done to prevent alcohol abuse?
Suicide is an issue that needs to be addressed. People suffering from suicidal thoughts need to know that they matter, that they have a purpose and that they do belong here on this planet. Now awareness campaigns are beginning to pop up with the purpose of spreading that exact message.
According to the HIV Stigma Index, 7% of HIV-positive women report being victims of forced sterilisation. As well as this, 43% of South Africans who are HIV positive suffer from ‘internalised stigma.’ Allegations of forced sterilisation have been made in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Swaziland – among female HIV-sufferers, disabled and underprivileged women.
Mental heath has been a mystery that has eluded the world for ages. While society continues to make exponential strides in diagnosing and treating physical illness somehow mental illness has fallen behind in every aspect from education and awareness to funding and treatment. So this poses an important question. Why doesn’t society have a better understanding of mental illness?
According to UNICEF, many of the global under-five deaths occur in children already weakened by malnutrition. In 2010 this amounted to 4.2% of children under-five in the Western Cape being diagnosed as suffering severe malnutrition. On the opposite end of the scale, we have the South African Medical Research Council reporting that nearly 70% of South African women are both overweight and obese. This means it’s not uncommon to have an overweight parent, with an under-nourished child in the same family.
If you meet Helen Lieberman, the founder of Ikamva Labantu, you would be impressed by the energy she exudes. Helen’s father was Lithuanian, he fled the pogroms to find safety. Her mother was English, who came to South Africa during World War I. Helen’s upbringing was sheltered. She’d never known anything other than her community, its people, its customs, its newspapers controlled by the government, until the day she entered a township. She was 21 years old. That day, she decided that she couldn’t live in this country without getting involved.
A non-profit organisation, HOPE Cape Town, is making great strides to support children and families who are affected by HIV/AIDS and TB. The organisation helps people by offering counselling and educational programmes at the community level and works in disadvantaged ‘forgotten’ areas like Mannenberg and Blikkiesdorp.
The war on drugs has been one of the most disastrous conflicts to have been fought. From South Africa to South London, it has ruined millions of lives, exacerbated addiction and cost governments around the world billions of dollars. In short, it’s been one expensive mistake.
Communities of Cape Town are becoming more accepting of the disabled but there is still a lot to learn. People are scared of the unknown because they don’t understand it.