‘Mars Azen’ campaign launched

‘Mars Azen’ campaign launched
‘Mars Azen’ campaign launched

Africa-Press – Seychelles. The ‘Mars Azen’ campaign, or Dry March, an annual initiative by the division for substance abuse prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation, has been launched under the theme ‘SOBER’ – Strengthening Our Bonds and Embracing Reconnections.

The campaign aims to raise awareness about the risks of alcohol consumption and this will be done throughout the month of March.

Jennifa Belmont, director of the prevention and education unit, and Fulgentia Chetty, programmes officer, met the press yesterday at the headquarters of the division for substance abuse prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation (DSAPTR), to talk about the campaign’s significance.

“This campaign is geared towards the population, and its main aim is to target individuals, families, communities and friends together. DSAPTR wants the community to understand that when an individual drinks alcohol or is addicted to alcohol it affects the environment around them. This campaign is to encourage people to restrain from drinking alcohol from March 1 to the 31st,” shared Ms Belmont.

She pointed out that alcohol consumption is a major issue in the country, which unfortunately impacts the children. “We need to understand the feelings of the children vis-à-vis schools, friends, home and the community,” she added.

The chosen theme ‘SOBER’ encourages stakeholders to reflect on alcohol’s societal impact. In collaboration with the Retailers’ Association, Ministry of Education, and communication companies, DSAPTR initiated a sensitisation programme around schools in January.

An artistic competition for students was launched at the same time, and winners will be rewarded at the end of the campaign in March.

Throughout the month of March, the DSAPTR team will be visiting and engaging with communities and talk with the public about alcohol and its effects, as well as share various programmes available within their organisations.

Events such as a road show on March 8, and a fun walk on March 23, will further promote awareness. Additionally, the DSAPTR team will be present on Praslin from March 13 to 15 to judge the posters. An outreach programme will also take place on both Praslin and La Digue.

All posters created by the students will be showcased during the first week of April at the National Arts and Crafts Council, allowing the public to gain insight into the children’s perspectives.

“Alcohol poses a significant issue for our country, affecting both social and health aspects of life. Its impact on our economy is substantial, with alcohol-related problems incurring significant costs,” said Ms Belmont.

“In 2022, we conducted a mini-survey and engaged with members of the public in town. Our findings revealed a lack of understanding among many regarding alcohol’s impact on the community. Moreover, there are instances in schools where students require assistance,” she remarked.

It is regrettable that certain articles and videos circulating worldwide claim that “Seychelles has the highest alcohol consumption per capita among African countries, at 9.48 litres. The top five African countries with the highest alcohol consumption allegedly include Tanzania, Eswatini, Burkina Faso, and South Africa.”

Ms Belmont clarified that the DSAPTR was not involved in that survey, indicating that it may have been conducted by a private company.

For ‘Mars Azen’, Ms Belmont is urging parents to remember their children before getting drunk. “Spending quality time with your family offers many advantages such as fostering strong bonds and deepening relationships, creating a supportive network that lasts a lifetime,” added Ms Belmont.

“Engaging in activities together promotes communication, understanding, and empathy among family members. Unlike alcohol, which can lead to health issues and impaired judgment, family time enhances emotional well-being and mental health. It provides a sense of belonging and security, contributing to overall happiness,” concluded Ms Belmont.

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