Program to target pregnant women with addictions concerns

The Winnipeg Free Press published an article yesterday called Clinic opens a new front in FASD war; Pregnant addicts targeted It afflicts thousands, costs billions (Mary Agnes Welch, June 20, 2011).

Despite the sensationalistic article title (images of a futile “war on drugs,” anyone?), the newly announced Mothering program at the Mount Carmel Clinic looks like a step in the right direction in terms of supporting pregnant women with addictions concerns – with a huge number of potential benefits beyond FASD prevention. The program will include a range of classes and programs, from cooking and parenting to peer support and prenatal care.

The article comments: “Critics say the province is sprinkling money without really making a dent in FASD rates.” The Manitoba government is contributing $70,000 in annual funding for the program, which is part of an extra $1 million the government is spending this year to address FASD. That brings total spending on FASD to $12.6 million, which covers roughly two dozen initiatives.

While these programs are extremely important, it does make you  wonder whether the government is looking at broader determinants of health and how social and health policy greatly affects the lives of women. The article suggests that the program will reach pregnant women released from drug and alcohol treatment programs. If this is the case, then it’s important to ensure that they have access to more than programs and classes – things like housing and adequate income & work and access to education are also important to consider.

For more on FASD prevention in Manitoba, visit Healthy Child Manitoba and take a look at earlier posts: