Ukraine: National Campaign on Alcohol and Pregnancy
Sparked by the high number of women consuming alcohol while pregnant leading to high fetal alcohol syndrome cases, Ukraine has launched a national campaign to address the problem.
It is estimated that 25–35% of women in Ukraine consume alcohol during pregnancy. As a result, the country has one of the highest rates of fetal alcohol syndrome cases (50 cases per 10 000) in the world.
The “Virgin” Pregnancy communications campaign aims to reduce alcohol consumption during pregnancy. It is implemented within the framework of Noncommunicable Diseases: Prevention and Health Promotion in Ukraine, a joint project of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and WHO, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
As part of this campaign, 9 Ukrainian gynaecologists took part in an educational art performance to highlight that even minimal amounts of alcohol consumed by a pregnant woman put the unborn child at risk.
Harmful effects of alcohol on pregnancy
A formative study, conducted by WHO in Ukraine in 2018, found that many pregnant women do not receive reliable information about the harmful effects of alcohol during pregnancy. They believe that “small” doses of alcoholic beverages will not harm them or their child.
However, any amount of alcohol consumption throughout the pregnancy can cause serious issues and affect the child’s liver, heart and nervous system.
Studies show that even small doses of alcohol during pregnancy affect the cognitive and socioemotional development of a child, and may also cause other health problems: neuro-ontogenetic disorders and congenital defects associated with alcohol,” said Andriy Skipalskyi, Director-General of the Directorate of Public Health of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, as per WHO Europe.