International Day Against Drug Abuse 2018

Substance HO 2018


Facts on Substance Abuse

People abuse substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs for varied and complicated reasons, but it is clear that our society pays a significant cost. The toll for this abuse can be seen in our hospitals and emergency departments both through direct damage to health by substance abuse and its link to physical trauma. Jails and prisons tally daily the strong connection between crime and drug dependence and abuse. Although use of some drugs such as cocaine has declined in recent years, use of other drugs such as heroin, crystal methamphetamine, and “club drugs” has increased.

  • Finding effective treatment for and prevention of substance abuse and substance dependence, now both included under the diagnosis of substance use disorder, has been difficult. Through research, we now have a better understanding of this behaviour. Studies have made it clear that drug education and prevention aimed at children and adolescents offers the best chance to curb drug abuse nationally.
  • The 2014 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse estimated that more than 16% of respondents have used illicit drugs in the past year. Other statistics from the survey include that more than 22% over 18 years of age have engaged in binge drinking in the past year

Abused substances produce some form of intoxication that alters judgment, perception, attention, or physical control.

Many substances can bring on withdrawal effects caused by cessation or reduction in the amount of the substance used. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild anxiety to seizures and hallucinations. Drug overdose may also cause death.

Nearly all drugs of abuse can also produce a phenomenon known as tolerance, in which one must use a larger amount of the drug to produce the same level of intoxication. Commonly abused drugs include the following:

  • Inhalants: This group of substances includes solvents that emit vapors, causing intoxication when breathed in (inhaled). Individuals who abuse inhalants intentionally breathe in the vapors, either directly from a container, from a bag in which such a substance is in, or from a rag soaked with the substance and then placed over the mouth or nose. Inhalant intoxication happens quickly and doesn’t last long.
    • Abuse of inhalants is also called “huffing.” Approximately 58% of inhalant users report first using it by the end of ninth grade. Teens who started using inhalants before 15 years of age were up to six times more likely as those who had started later to develop dependence on these substances.
    • Symptoms of inhalant intoxication are very similar to those seen with intoxication with alcohol, including dizziness, clumsiness, slurred speech, elation, tiredness, slowed reflexes, thinking and movement, shaking, blurred vision, stupor or coma, and/or weakness. It can also result in chemical and temperature burns, as well as withdrawal symptoms, chronic mental illness, and even sudden death.
    • Long-term damage associated with inhalant use includes brain and nerve damage as well as heart, liver, or kidney failure.
  • Tobacco: People cite many reasons for using tobacco, including pleasure, improved performance and vigilance, relief of depression, curbing hunger, and weight control.
  • Alcohol: Although many people have a drink as a “pick me up,” alcohol actually depresses the brain. Alcohol lessens your inhibitions, slurs speech, and decreases muscle control and coordination, and prolonged use may lead to alcoholism.
    • Withdrawal from alcohol can cause anxiety, irregular heartbeat, tremor, seizures, and hallucinations. In its severest form, withdrawal combined with malnutrition can lead to a life-threatening condition called delirium tremens (DTs). Alcohol abuse is the most common cause of liver failure in the U.S. The drug can cause heart enlargement and cancer of the esophagus, pancreas, and stomach.
    • In addition to its direct health effects, officials associate alcohol abuse with nearly half of all fatal motor-vehicle accidents.
    • What Are Commonly Abused Drugs?
  • Marijuana (also known as grass, pot, weed, herb): Marijuana, which comes from the plant Cannabis sativa, is the most commonly used illegal drug. The active ingredient in the plant, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is associated with intoxication. Marijuana resin, called hashish, contains an even higher concentration of THC.
    • The drug is usually smoked, but it can also be eaten. Its smoke irritates your lungs more and contains more cancer-causing chemicals than tobacco smoke. Common effects of marijuana use include pleasure, relaxation, and impaired coordination and memory.
    • Often the first illegal drug people use, marijuana is associated with increased risk of progressing to the use of more powerful and dangerous drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The risk for progressing to cocaine use is 104 times higher if you have smoked marijuana at least once than if you never smoked marijuana.
    • Synthetic (man-made) forms of marijuana (often called K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Blaze and Red X) can be smoked or otherwise inhaled. It is an increasing health risk, in that it can produce the same impairment in judgment, addiction, and inability to function as marijuana and go undetected by conventional drug testing. Some preparations of synthetic marijuana are much more potent than traditional marijuana, leading to a higher occurrence of becoming delirious, having seizures, or a stroke.
  • Cocaine (also known as crack, coke, snow, blow, rock):
    • Derived from the coca plant of South America, cocaine can be smoked, injected, snorted, or swallowed. The intensity and duration of the drug’s effects depend on how you take it. Desired effects include pleasure and increased alertness.
    • Short-term effects also include paranoia, constriction of blood vessels leading to heart damage or stroke, irregular heartbeat, and death. Severe depression and reduced energy often accompany withdrawal. Both short- and long-term use of cocaine have been associated with damage to the heart, the brain, the lung, and the kidneys.
  • Heroin (also known as dope, smack, horse):
    • Effects of heroin intoxication include drowsiness, pleasure, and slowed breathing. Withdrawal can be intense and can include vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, confusion, aches, and sweating.
    • Overdose may result in decreased breathing to the point of stopped breathing and death. Because heroin is usually injected, often with dirty needles, use of the drug can trigger other health complications including destruction of your heart valves, tetanus, and botulism, and infections like HIV/AIDS or hepatitis.
  • Methamphetamines (also known as meth, crank, ice, speed, crystal): Use of this drug also has increased, especially in the West. Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that increases alertness, decreases appetite, and gives a sensation of pleasure.
    • The drug can be injected, snorted, smoked, or eaten. It shares many of the same toxic effects as cocaine — heart attacks, dangerously high blood pressure, and stroke.
    • Withdrawal often causes depression, abdominal cramps, and increased appetite. Other long-term effects include paranoia, hallucinations, weight loss, destruction of teeth, and heart damage.

What is Tik?

Tik is the South African street name for crystal methamphetamine. It has a very bad reputation in South Africa because it’s more potent that other forms of meth and because it is so easily available. It started off as the drug of choice in poor communities because it’s cheap, but it has since spread to other levels of society.

Tik’s effects are stronger and last longer than other forms of meth, but the crash is also much worse.

Tik and all other forms of crystal meth are stimulants, as opposed to depressants, because they increase activity between the brain and the central nervous system.

Pleasant side-effects include:

  • Euphoria
  • Heightened sense of contentment and satisfaction – no worries in the world.
  • Confidence
  • Energy
  • Power
  • Gratitude


Unpleasant side-effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Aggression
  • Headache
  • Cramps


Long-term side-effects

  • Malnutrition
  • Depression
  • Meth mouth – rotten and broken teeth caused by poor oral hygiene and constant grinding.
  • Mental disorders – tik psychosis
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Organ failure
  • Heart attack
  • Brain damage
  • Coma
  • Death


Tik addiction

There are few drugs more addictive than tik. What’s worse is that it doesn’t take long for psychological and physical dependence to set in. Relapse rates with tik are very high because it’s difficult to work through the severity of the physical withdrawal symptoms and to get over the psychological cravings.

In-patient rehabilitation is necessary to treat tik addiction because addicts need to be physically removed from the enabling environment, and they need the enforced structure and holistic therapy to break the destructive behaviour patterns and ways of thinking that keep them in the addiction cycle.


  • Anabolic steroids:
    • This group of drugs includes testosterone, which is the natural male hormone. It also includes a number of other synthetic forms of testosterone. Steroids are often abused by bodybuilders or other athletes to increase muscle mass or improve performance.
    • These types of substances seem to be associated with a number of mental-health effects, like dependence on the substance, mood problems, and developing other kinds of drug abuse.
  • Club drugs: The club scene and rave parties have popularized an assortment of other drugs. Many young people believe these drugs are harmless or even healthy. The following are the most popular club drugs:
    • Ecstasy (also called MDMA, E, X, E pills, Adam, STP): This is a stimulant and hallucinogen used to improve mood and to maintain energy, often for all-night dance parties. Even onetime use can cause high fevers to the point of inducing a seizure. Long-term use may cause damage to the brain’s ability to regulate sleep, pain, memory, and emotions.
    • GHB (also called Liquid XTC, G, blue nitro): Once sold at health-food stores, GHB’s effects are related to dose. Effects range from mild relaxation to coma or death. GHB is often used as a date-rape drug because it is tasteless, colorless, and acts as a powerful sedative.
    • Rohypnol (also called roofies, roche): This is another sedative that has been used as a date-rape drug. Effects include low blood pressure, dizziness, abdominal cramps, confusion, and impaired memory.
    • Ketamine (also called Special K, K): This is an anesthetic that can be taken orally or injected. Ketamine (Ketalar) can impair memory and attention. Higher doses can cause amnesia, paranoia and hallucinations, depression, and difficulty breathing.
    • LSD (also called acid, microdot) and mushrooms (also called shrooms, magic mushrooms, peyote, buttons): Popular in the 1960s, LSD has been revived in the club scene. LSD and hallucinogenic mushrooms can cause hallucinations, numbness, nausea, and increased heart rate. Long-term effects include unwanted “flashbacks” and psychosis (hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and mood disturbances).
    • PCP (also known as angel dust, hog, lovie, love boat): PCP is a powerful anesthetic used in veterinary medicine. Its effects are similar to those of ketamine but often stronger. The anesthetic effects are so strong that you can break your arm but not feel any pain when under its effects. Usually, tobacco or marijuana cigarettes are dipped into PCP and then smoked.

What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Substance Abuse?

Use and abuse of substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs may begin in childhood or the teen years. Certain risk factors may increase someone’s likelihood of abusing substances.

  • Family history factors that influence a child’s early development have been shown to be related to an increased risk of drug abuse, such as
    • chaotic home environment,
    • ineffective parenting,
    • lack of nurturing and parental attachment,
    • parental drug use or addiction.
  • Other risk factors for substance abuse are related to the substance abuse sufferer him- or herself, like
  • Factors related to a child’s socialization outside the family may also increase risk of drug abuse, including
    • inappropriately aggressive or shy behavior in the classroom,
    • poor social coping skills,
    • poor school performance,
    • association with a deviant peer group or isolating oneself from peers altogether,
    • perception of approval of drug-use behavior.

What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Substance Abuse?

Friends and family may be among the first to recognize the signs of substance abuse. Early recognition increases the chances for successful treatment. Signs to watch for include the following:

  • Giving up past activities such as sports, homework, or hanging out with new friends
  • Declining grades
  • Aggressiveness and irritability
  • Significant change in mood or behavior
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disappearing money or valuables
  • Feeling rundown, hopeless, depressed, or even suicidal
  • Sounding selfish and not caring about others
  • Use of room deodorizers and incense
  • Paraphernalia such as baggies, small boxes, pipes, and rolling paper
  • Physical problems with unclear cause (for example, red eyes and slurred speech)
  • Getting drunk or high on drugs on a regular basis
  • Lying, particularly about how much alcohol or other drugs he or she is using
  • Avoiding friends or family in order to get drunk or high
  • Planning drinking in advance, hiding alcohol, and drinking or using other drugs alone
  • Having to drink more to get the same high
  • Believing that in order to have fun you need to drink or use other drugs
  • Frequent hangovers
  • Pressuring others to drink or use other drugs
  • Taking risks, including sexual risks
  • Having “blackouts,” forgetting what he or she did the night before
  • Constantly talking about drinking or using other drugs
  • Getting in trouble with the law
  • Drinking and driving
  • Suspension or other problems at school or in the workplace for an alcohol- or drug-related incident

When to Seek Medical Care

If you recognize that someone has a substance abuse problem and wants to quit, a doctor can refer him/her to community resources where he/she may receive formal diagnosis and treatment of a substance-abuse problem. A doctor also may prescribe medications to control cravings and withdrawal or help manage medical complications resulting from substance abuse. Let a doctor know what drugs are being used and how they are taken. Any of the following symptoms warrant a call to the doctor:

  • Mild tremors or an alcohol withdrawal seizure not accompanied by hallucinations or confusion
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • Increasing abdominal girth
  • Leg swelling
  • Cough, congestion, or sniffles that won’t go away
  • Continuing feelings of sadness or depression
  • Pain at an injection site
  • Fever

Screening and Assessment for Substance Abuse

While there is no one test that establishes the diagnosis of a substance use disorder with certainty, there are screening tools, including online tests, that may help identify people who are at risk for having a substance use problem. Therefore, health-care professionals assess this group of illnesses by gathering thorough mental-health, medical, and family information. The practitioner will also likely ask that the individual’s primary-care doctor perform a physical exam, including lab tests to assess the person’s medical health and to explore whether or not the individual has a medical condition that can produce the same symptoms as a mental-health problem.

Exploring the presence of mental-health symptoms includes determining if the person has a substance use disorder, a mood disorder like depression and/or mania or anxiety, or if he or she suffers from the hallucinations or delusions associated with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or other psychotic disorders. The possible presence of a personality or behavior disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is also usually explored. Practitioners may use a quiz or self-test as a screening tool for substance-use disorders.

What Is the Treatment for Substance Abuse?

Most substance abusers believe they can stop using drugs on their own, but the majority who try do not succeed. Before treatment for the addictive behavior can be directly addressed, the substance abuse sufferer might need help in lessening physical withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs they have been using. That initial phase of treatment is called detoxification or “detox.” It often requires inpatient hospital treatment.

Research shows that long-term drug use alters brain function and strengthens compulsions to use drugs. This craving continues even after drug use stops.

Because of these ongoing cravings, the most important component of treatment, also called recovery, is preventing relapse. Treating substance abuse often requires treatment in a rehabilitation (rehab) program and depends on both the person and the substance being used. In behavioural treatment, a counsellor (like a social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, or nurse practitioner) provides strategies to cope with drug cravings and ways to avoid relapse. Treatment often includes individual and group therapy.

Once they have performed a thorough assessment of someone’s condition, a doctor or nurse practitioner may prescribe medications, such as nicotine patches and methadone, to control withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Random drug testing is often an integral part of encouraging the person with substance abuse problems to refrain from further drug use. Drug-abuse hotlines can be an invaluable resource for people to initiate treatment and prevent relapse.

Often, a drug user has an underlying behavioural disorder or other mental illness, one that increases risk for substance abuse. When an individual suffers from a substance use disorder in addition to another mental-health disorder, he or she is referred to as having dual diagnosis. Such disorders must be treated medically and through counselling along with treatment of the drug abuse.

How Can You Prevent Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse may start in childhood or adolescence. Abuse prevention efforts in schools and community settings now focus on school-age groups. Programs seek to increase communication between parents and their children, to teach resistance skills, and to provide information in order to correct children’s misperceptions about cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs and the consequences of their use. Most importantly, officials seek to develop, through education and the media, an environment of social disapproval of drug use from children’s peers and families.

What Is the Prognosis for Substance Abuse?

Individuals who suffer from substance abuse tend to be more successful in recovery when they are highly motivated to be in treatment, are actively engaged in their own recovery, and receive intensive treatment services. Prognosis for substance abuse recovery is further improved by being able to easily access community-based social supports.

·         Medically reviewed by Ashraf Ali, MD; American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology


American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.

Bouchery, E.E., H.J. Harwood, J.J. Sacks, et al. “Economic Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption in the U.S., 2006.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 41.5 Nov. 2011: 516-524.

Howard, M.O., S.E. Bowen, and E.L. Garland, et al. “Inhalant use and inhalant use disorders in the United States.” Addiction Science in Clinical Practice 6.1 July 2011: 18-31.

Kanayama, G., J.I. Hudson, and H.G. Pope. “Features of men with anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence: a comparison with nondependent AAS users and with AAS nonusers.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 102.1-3 June 2009: 130-137.

Kanayama, G., J.I. Hudson, and H.G. Pope. “Long-term psychiatric and medical consequences of anabolic-androgenic steroid abuse: a looming public health concern?” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 98.1-1 Nov. 2008: 1-12.

Monte, A.A., A.C. Bronstein, D.J. Cao, et al. “An outbreak of exposure to a novel synthetic cannabinoid.” New England Journal of Medicine 370.4 (2014: 389.

Simpson, D.D. “Introduction to 5-year follow-up treatment outcome studies [Editorial].” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 25.3 (2003): 123-124.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. “Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.” Rockville, Maryland: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2011.

United States. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Illnesses.” National Institutes of Health 2008 December; Publication Number 10-5771.

United States. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, NSDUH Series H-47, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4805.” Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013.

Witbrodt, J., Y. Ye, J. Bond, et al. “Alcohol and drug treatment involvement, 12-step attendance and abstinence: 9-year cross-lagged analysis of adults in an integrated health plan.” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 46.4 Apr. 2014: 412-419.




Father's Day SSP 2018


Father’s Day festival is considered extremely important as it helps acknowledge the contribution of fathers to individual families and to societies as large. Besides observance of Father’s Day provide children an opportunity to express love and respect for their fathers. The sentiment goes a long way in strengthening father-child relationship and consequently in the emotional development of a child.

History of Father’s Day

The idea of celebrating Father’s Day Festival was given by Ms Sonora Dodd, a loving daughter from Spokane. Her father Henry Jackson Smart single-handedly raised Sonora and five of her siblings after the death of her mother during childbirth. When Sonora attended a Mother’s Day Sermon in 1909, she thought that if there is the day to honour mother then there should also be a corresponding day to honour fathers. Sonora worked relentlessly for years to ensure that the idea of Father’s Day becomes a reality. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge first recognized Father’s Day. In view of the massive popularity of the festival, in 1972, President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day to be held on the third Sunday of June.

Over the years, the concept of celebrating Father’s Day spread beyond geographical boundaries. Today, millions of children across the world express gratitude for their dads as they celebrate Father’s Day festival.

Significance of Father in our Lives

Many people laughed at Sonora Dodd when she gave the concept of having a Father’s Day, as traditionally, only mother is regarded as the sole nurturer of a child. The role of father is often relegated to a secondary status as compared to a mother. But all of us know that father is just as important for a child as the mother is. If mothers are the heroes of child rearing, significance of father in the development and emotional well being of a child is no less. Children depend on their father for their spiritual, emotional, physical, financial and social well being. For daughters, father is the ideal man in the world and also the first man they adore, while for sons, father is an idol and the strongest man they aspire to emulate.

Though traditionally father is seen more as a provider and guide for children, the scenario appears significantly changed in nuclear family culture of today. With most husband and wife working, fathers in present times are as involved in child rearing job as the mothers are. Today, most fathers do not shy away from changing nappy or taking the difficult task for putting the baby to sleep. This cultural change is helping in strengthening father-child relationship and consequently in emotional development of a child and building of stronger family bonds.

Celebrating Father’s Day 

Father’s Day give us the opportunity to express thanks to our Daddy for all his unconditional love and affection. Observance of Father’s Day makes fathers feel that their contributions are acknowledged in the society and also by their children. They feel proud of themselves ! Besides by celebrating Father’s Day, children come closer to their father. For, most often children take love of their parents for granted. Celebration of Father’s Day makes them ponder for a while on the important role their father play in their life. This helps them appreciate the selfless care and protection provided by their father and hence they come emotionally closer to their dad.

Children must therefore take full opportunity of the day and express their gratitude for fathers with all their heart. The best way to do so is to do small things that daddy appreciates and by saying “I love you, Dad” with a gift..

South African National Child Protection Week – Raising Awareness

Child Protection SSP 2018 (2)


With a recent flood of child abuse related media coverage, the non-profit organisation Community Keepers is using Child Protection week (1-8 June) to raise awareness about this very important topic.

The protection of our children is everyone’s responsibility. Are you able to identify the signs of child abuse and would you know what to do? Community Keepers offers tips and advice on this topic.

The following measures can be introduced in order to prevent sexual abuse:

· Communication: Parents must talk with their child about the realities of abuse. If there are any            suspicions of abuse, it must be discussed with the child;

·  Parental control: Ensure adult supervision over a child at all times. If a strange adult supervises there must be at least one other adult present;

· Offenders: Children can never be left alone with individuals who have had previous allegations of abuse against them;

· Rooms: Ideally boys and girls must sleep in separate rooms; and

· Sex: The assumption that the abuser is always a male is incorrect. Boys or girls can get hurt (abused) by people of the same or opposite sex.

There are specific signs / indicators of abuse that a parent can be sensitive to and if there is a suspicion that abuse occurs, these characteristics serve as confirmation (this can also occur due to other reasons such as family or school problems and does not necessarily mean the child is being abused or not):

·         Changes in behaviour, mood changes, anxiety, withdrawn or very clingy;

·         Nightmares, fear of going to the bedroom alone;

·         Bedwetting;

·         Abnormal sexual activity or interest in sexual matters;

·         Fear of specific places, people or activities;

·         Scratches, cuts, bruises or unexplained injuries; and

·         Pain, itching, bleeding, or fluid surrounding the private parts of the child.

If there is a suspicion that a child is abused, the following steps must be followed:

Step 1: Safety- Ensure that the child is safe and out of reach of the offender;

· Step 2: Report- Contact the nearest care centre (e.g. Child Care or ACVV). It is important to bear in mind that someone cannot be charged if there is no evidence. An innocent person’s reputation can be harmed if conclusions are made at an early stage; and

·Step 3: Follow-up- Ensure that the measures as proposed by the care centre are implemented and enforced. This will usually support the victim and it is necessary to see that the child makes use of this.

Community Keepers would like to encourage South African citizens to help spread this information and raise awareness about safe guarding our children.

For more information on Child Protection week, visit the Department of Social Development.

For more information on Community Keepers and what they are doing to protect and support our children, refer to

Mother’s Day 2018

Mother's Day SSP 2018


Mother’s Day is not only a time to celebrate moms, it’s also steeped with tradition and amazingly fun facts. Check out our 20 fun facts about Mother’s Day.


Mother’s Day is steeped in tradition. Although, we may view it as “just another Hallmark Holiday” it is one of those days that we should all stop and take notice of the special woman or women in our lives that have been there for us through thick and thin. If you are a mom or have a special lady in your life, read on to discover 20 fun facts about Mother’s Day that you can use to wow and delight her – she will think you are so clever!

·         1 Historical Mother’s Day Facts

·         2 Mother’s Day Flowers

·         3 Fun Mother’s Day Facts

·         4 Strange But True Mother’s Day Facts

Historical Mother’s Day Facts

1) In Greek mythology spring festivals were held in honor of the maternal goddess called, Rhea. She was the wife of Cronus and was believed to be the mother of many deities.

2) In 250 B.C. ancient Romans celebrated a spring festival called, Hilaria. This was dedicated to a mother goddess named, Cybele, on the Ides of March. Her followers would make offerings at the temple, hold parades, play games and also have masquerades. It lasted three days.

3) In the 1600’s England, Mothering Sunday took place on the 4th Sunday of Lent. It began with a prayer service in honor of the Virgin Mary. Afterwards children would present their moms with flowers.

4) In 1870 a female activist, writer and poet by the name of Julia Ward (she wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”) suggested a day of peace and strongly advocated other women to stand up against the war. From this plea she was able to get Boston to recognize mothers on the second Sunday of June.

5) Anna Jarvis was also a woman that may have been behind our traditional Mother’s Day celebration on the second Sunday of May. Anna never had any children, but wanted to carry out her own mother’s wishes of having a day just for moms. Anna tirelessly campaigned and on May 8th, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.


Mother’s Day Flowers

6) Mother’s Day sees around one quarter of all flowers purchased throughout the year falling on this holiday.

7) Carnations are very popular flowers for Mother’s Day and are thought to be made from the tears of Jesus’ mother (Mary) when she wept at his feet the day He was crucified.

8) Pink and red carnations are given to mother’s that are still alive, while white ones are for those that have passed away.

9) Studies and research now show that giving a bouquet of flowers has many positive health and psychological benefits.

Fun Mother’s Day Facts

10) In the vast majority of the world’s languages, the word for “mother” begins with the letter M.

11) Ancient Egyptians believed cats were sacred animals and revered ‘Bast’ as the mother of all cats on Earth.

12) In the United States alone, around 122 million phone calls are made to moms on Mother’s Day.

13) Approximately $14 billion dollars is spent on Mother’s Day.

14) What are you getting your mother this Mother’s Day? Common gifts include: cards, flowers, meals in restaurants, jewelry, gift cards, clothing, trips to a spa, books, CDs, housewares and even gardening tools.

15) In what was formerly Yugoslavia, children would tie up their mother on Mother’s Day. The only way she could get free would be to pay her children with treats.


Strange But True Mother’s Day Facts

16) In 1939 in Lima, Peru, the youngest mother on record delivered a baby boy by C-section. She was only 5 years-old and the baby was raised as her brother.

17) On the flip-side, the oldest woman to deliver a baby was recorded on April 9, 2003. Her name is, Satyabhama Mahapatra, and is a 65-year-old retired schoolteacher in India. She gave birth to a baby boy, which was her first child after 50 years of marriage. However, the eggs were donated by her 26 year-old niece.

18) Before Octomom (Nadya Suleman) Bobbie McCaughey had septuplets – four boys and three girls – on November 19, 1997. The babies were born via C-section after 31 weeks.

19) The shortest span between two babies is by mom, Jayne Bleackley. She gave birth to her son on September 3, 1999. Then only 208 days later gave birth to her daughter (on March 30, 2000).

20) Elizabeth Ann Buttle gives a whole new meaning to second family. She gave birth to her first child (a girl) May 19,1956. Then when she was 60 years-old, she gave birth to her son on November 20, 1997, making the babies 41 years 185 days apart.

Workers Day 2018


Labour Day SSP 2018.jpg

On 1 May, South Africa will enjoy Worker’s Day (effectively a May Day holiday). Worker’s Day celebrates the role played by Trade Unions, the Communist Party and other labour movements in the struggle against Apartheid. 

May Day, as we know it refers to various socialist and labour movement celebrations conducted on 1 May. May Day was born from the industrial struggle for an eight-hour day.

Origins of May Day

International working classes have existed since the development of agriculture, about ten thousand years ago. Serfs, slaves, trades people and others were forced to turn over the fruits of their labour to an exploiting class. But the modern working class, whose exploitation is hidden by the wage system, is only several hundred years old. Men, women and children forced to work long hours in miserable conditions just to eke out a living.

These conditions gave rise to demands for limitations on the working day. Utopian socialist, Robert Owen of England, had raised the demand for a ten-hour day as early as 1810, and instituted it in his socialist enterprise at New Lanark. For the rest of the English workers, progress was slower. Women and children were only granted a ten-hour day in 1847.

French worker’s demand for a 12-hour day was granted after the February revolution of 1848.

In the United States, where May Day was born, Philadelphia carpenters campaigned for a ten-hour day in 1791. By the 1830s, this had become a general demand. In 1835, workers in Philadelphia organised a general strike, led by Irish coal heavers. Their banners read, “From 6 to 6, ten hours work and two hours for meals.” From 1830 to 1860, the average work day had dropped from 12 hours to 11 hours.

Already in this period, the demand for an eight-hour day was being raised. In 1836, after succeeding in attaining the ten-hour day in Philadelphia, the National Laborer declared: “We have no desire to perpetuate the ten-hour system, for we believe that eight hours’ daily labor is more than enough for any man to perform.”

At the 1863 convention of the Machinists’ and Blacksmiths’ Union, the eight-hour day was declared a top priority. The heart of the movement was in Chicago, organised mainly by the International Working Peoples’ Association.

Business and the state reacted to the rapidly growing militant movement by increasing its support to the police and the militia. Local business in Chicago purchased a $2 000 machine gun for the Illinois National Guard to use against strikers. On 3 May 1886 police fired into a crowd of striking workers, killing four and wounding many.

This uproar was carried out against the backdrop of the Civil War, which marked the abolition of slavery and the opening of the Southern states to free-labour capitalism.

A few years later, in 1872, a hundred thousand workers in New York City struck and won the eight-hour day, mostly for building trades workers. It was in this protracted campaign for an eight-hour day that May Day was born.

The movement for the eight-hour day was linked to the date of 1 May at an 1884 convention of the three-year-old Federation of Organized Trades and Labour Unions of the United States and Canada, the forerunner of the American Federation of Labor.

Five years later, in 1889 over 400 delegates met in Paris on the 100th anniversary of the French revolution at the Marxist International Socialist Congress. The congress passed a resolution calling for an international demonstration to campaign for an eight-hour day. It was resolved to hold the demonstration on 1 May 1890 in keeping with the American Federation of Labour’s 1886 demonstrations of 1 May.

The call was a resounding success. On 1 May 1890, May Day demonstrations took place in the United States and most countries in Europe. Demonstrations were also held in Chile and Peru. In Havana, Cuba, workers marched demanding an eight-hour working day, equal rights for all and working-class unity.

Although the 1889 resolution called for a once-off demonstration on 1 May, the day quickly became an annual event. Throughout the world workers in more countries marked the celebration of labourers rights on May Day.

May Day was celebrated for the first time in Russia, Brazil and Ireland in 1891. By 1904 the Second International called on all socialists and trade unionists in every country to “demonstrate energetically” annually on 1 May “for the legal establishment of the eight-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.”

Chinese workers celebrated their first May Day in 1920, following the Russian socialist revolution. In 1927, workers in India observed May Day with demonstrations in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. By that time, May Day was truly a world workers’ day.

Ironically, while May Day gained momentum across the world it lost steam in the United States where the celebration originated. Today May Day is celebrated as a public holiday throughout most countries with the exception of the United States, because of the holiday’s association with Communism.

Mayday has been celebrated unofficially in South Africa since the 1980s. However, 1 May only became an officially recognised public holiday after the democratic elections of 1994. South Africa’s mining industry’s history and the development of strong Trade Unions and communist ideologies has largely determined the country’s labour history and the workers struggle. Below are some links to important features and sources on this history

Did you know?

May Day is not only celebrated everywhere as a ‘workers day’. The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian Europe, as in the Celtic celebration of Beltane, and the Walpurgis Night of the Germanic countries. Many pre-Christian indigenous celebrations were eventually banned or Christianised during the process of Christianisation in Europe. As a result, a more secular version of the holiday continued to be observed in the schools and churches of Europe well into the 20th century. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole and crowning of the Queen of May. Today various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on 1 May.

The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring (season), May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer. In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary’s month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary’s head will often be adorned with flowers. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of “May baskets,” small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors’ doorsteps.

Find more information on International Labour Day on our site.

For more information on the Labour Movement in South Africa and May Day’s local history.


Freedom Day 2018


Freedom Day SSP 2018.jpg

Freedom Day on 27 April is an annual celebration of South Africa’s first non-racial democratic elections of 1994. It is significant because it marks the end of over three hundred years of colonialism, segregation and white minority rule and the establishment of a new democratic government led by Nelson Mandela and a new state subject to a new constitution.  The holding of the first non racial elections was the culmination of years of struggle and a negotiated settlement which led to the unbanning of the liberation organisations, the release of political prisoners and the return of exiles and the formal all party negotiations which drafted an interim constitution.

The moment which changed the path of South African history came after long and tension-ridden negotiations held between 1991 and 1992. The South African government, the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other liberation movements engaged in these talks.

 The 1994 election paved the way towards a new democratic dispensation and a new constitution for the country. The elections took place in a peaceful and festive atmosphere, though there were threats of political violence.

Of South Africa’s 22, 7 million eligible voters, 19.7 million voted in the 1994 national election. The election was won by the ANC with 62.65 % of the vote. The National Party (NP) received 20.39 %, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) 10.54 %, Freedom Front (FF) 2.2 %, Democratic Party (DP) 1.7 %, Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) 1.2 % and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) 0.5 %. Although the ANC gained a majority vote, they formed the Government of National Unity, headed by the president of the ANC’s Nelson Mandela who became the first democratically elected President of the country.

Speaking at the first anniversary of South Africa’s non-racial elections President Mandela said; “As dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1995, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future. The birth of our South African nation has, like any other, passed through a long and often painful process. The ultimate goal of a better life has yet to be realised. On this day, you, the people, took your destiny into your own hands. You decided that nothing would prevent you from exercising your hard-won right to elect a government of your choice. Your patience, your discipline, your single-minded purposefulness have become a legend throughout the world…”

At Freedom Day celebrations in 2008 Thabo Mbeki delivered his last speech as South Africa President: “The brutalities of the past – detentions without trial, disappearances of our people, deaths in detentions, hangings of those opposed to apartheid, imprisonment, exile, massacres, assassinations, forced removals, banishments, the Group Areas Act and many more laws that made the lives of black people unbearable – are testimonies that our freedom was never free. Although today we walk tall because our collective efforts culminated in the 27th of April being our Freedom Day, we all still carry scars that remind us that our freedom that is at times taken for granted, was never free…”

In 2009 the acting President, Kgalema Motlanthe (who took over from Mbeki) maintained “I am equally honoured to celebrate this important day on our National Calendar in the province of KwaZulu Natal. For it is also here in this beautiful land of our forefathers that the struggle for liberation was fought by generations of heroes and heroines – fearless warriors, brave students, determined workers, powerful men and women, who believed that it was their mission to bring us our freedom. And fear of death itself would not stop them. This movement took on greater strength as new generations joined them. Their only purpose was that the next generation would live to taste the fruits of freedom…”

During the 16th anniversary of Freedom Day celebrations held at the Union Buildings in Pretoria prior to  the FIFA 2010 World Cup, President Jacob Zuma paid tribute to  the brave activists that played a role in South Africa’s liberation: “On this day we remember all the brave men and women whose struggle and sacrifices made it possible for us to enjoy the benefits of democracy today. It is a day to reflect on how far we have advanced in building a new, united and democratic nation. Importantly, it is also a time to consider the extent to which the freedoms articulated in our Bill of Rights find expression in the daily lives of our people. From the ruins of a racially polarised order, we have built a nation driven by a strong commitment to the values of justice and equality. As taught by our icon President Nelson Mandela, we must remain steadfast in our determination that never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another…”

Since political freedom in 1994 South Africans have strove to correct the wrongs of the past. We are still faced with a number of challenges such as crime, poverty, unemployment, racism and sexism amongst others. Freedom Day affords South Africans the opportunity to make a pledge towards fighting against the legacy of racism and economic inequality as well as renewing their loyalty to their country and their commitment to its future.


• South African History Online (1995), ‘Speech at the Freedom Day Celebrations’, 27 April [online], available at (Accessed: 23 April 2012)
• Mbeki T. (2008),
‘Mbeki’s address to Freedom Day celebrations’, from Politics Web, 27 April, [online], available at (Accessed: 23 April 2012)
• International Relations & Cooperation: Republic of South Africa,
‘Address by the President of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the Freedom Day Celebrations in Durban, 27 April 2009’, [online], available at (Accessed: 23 April 2012)
•  International Relations & Cooperation: Republic of South Africa,
‘Address by President Jacob Zuma at Freedom Day Celebrations, 27 April 2010’, [online], available at (Accessed: 23 April 2012)


World Health Day 2018

World Health Day SSP 2018


World Health Day is celebrated every year on the founding day of the World Health Organization.  Established in 1950 this event has a theme each year to draw attention to a current world health issue.  The WHO puts together regional, local, and international events on this day related to that theme.  Local governments also tend to jump on this band-wagon, after all, global health means everyone!   On this day you may take some extra steps to care for your health, consider getting a gym membership (and going!), starting a diet, or starting multi-vitamins!

Even better, get involved with the local events or organize one yourself!  Spreading the news of health and threats to the same can be an excellent way to celebrate this holiday, and inform others of the important issue of global health.  Themes throughout the years have varied, but always covered important issues of the day, covering everything from the Global Polio Eradication, staying active while aging, even road safety.  All of these issues were deemed to be important enough to global health that they merited an occasion of their very own on this date.

The World Health Organization is an agency of the United Nations that focuses on the public health of the world at large.  The WHO has a constitution that countries involved in the United Nations had an opportunity to sign, and unanimously did, agreeing to the tenets laid out within to promote the general health of the globe.  Through its efforts we have seen the eradication of small pox, and its focus then turned to communicable diseases, with a particular focus on tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Everyone needs to be concerned about the health of themselves and their community, and as such it’s a good time to turn your attention to this year’s theme.  By checking in at their website at you can find out what the current theme is, and find all sorts of plans and activities that will help you raise awareness about this important issue.  You can keep up with it every year, and play a big part in helping to promote global health all around.

The World Health Organization has been involved in mobilizing many health efforts the world over. Describing what medicines are essential for public health, and which diseases to give a particular focus to.  The movement to eradicate smallpox started in 1958, initiated by pressure from Viktor Zhdanov, the Deputy Minister of Health for the then USSR.  In 1979, the WHO declared that smallpox had in fact been eradicated, making it the first disease in history to be eliminated by the dedicated efforts of humans.

As you can see, celebrating World Health Day is very important, and you can use it to organize fund-raisers to support local free clinics and other public health sources.  Everyone can take a hand in improving the overall health of the world, just by starting with yourself, your family, and your community.  Blood banks are often taking volunteers to help out with their efforts, and the ability to have healthy, fresh blood on hand is central to saving many lives.

You can also take the task at home, by getting to know your environment and property, and eliminate all possible sources of standing water.  Standing water is a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitos, who spread disease by consuming the blood of its hosts, and moving from victim to victim, spreading it as it goes.  So this year, take some time to spread the word about how you and your neighbours can improve the world’s health, on World Health Day!  

World Tuberculosis Day 2018

World TB Day SSP 2018


Tuberculosis — or TB, as it’s commonly called — is a contagious infection that usually attacks the lungs. It can also spread to other parts of the body, like the brain and spine. A type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes it.

In the 20th century, TB was a leading cause of death in the United States. Today, most cases are cured with antibiotics. But it takes a long time. You have to take meds for at least 6 to 9 months.

How Is It Spread?

Through the air, just like a cold or the flu. When someone who’s sick coughs, sneezes, talks, laughs, or sings, tiny droplets that contain the germs are released. If you breathe in these nasty germs, you get infected.

TB is contagious, but it’s not easy to catch. The germs grow slowly. You usually have to spend a lot of time around a person who has it. That’s why it’s often spread among co-workers, friends, and family members.

Tuberculosis germs don’t thrive on surfaces. You can’t get the disease from shaking hands with someone who has it, or by sharing their food or drink.

How Does Tuberculosis Affect Your Body?

A TB infection doesn’t mean you’ll get sick. There are two forms of the disease:

Latent TB: You have the germs in your body, but your immune system stops them from spreading. That means you don’t have any symptoms and you’re not contagious. But the infection is still alive in your body and can one day become active. If you are at high risk for re-activation — for instance, you have HIV, your primary infection was in the last 2 years, your chest X-ray is abnormal, or you are immunocompromised — your doctor will treat you with antibiotics to lower the risk for developing active TB.  

Active TB disease: This means the germs multiply and can make you sick. You can spread the disease to others. Ninety percent of adult cases of active TB are from the reactivation of a latent TB infection.

 What Are the Symptoms of TB?

There aren’t any for latent TB. You’ll need to get a skin or blood test to find out if you’re infected.

But there are usually signs if you have active TB disease. They include:

If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor to get tested. Get medical help right away if you have chest pain.

Who’s at Risk?

You’re more likely to get TB if you come into contact with others who have it. Here are some situations that could increase your risk:

  • A friend, co-worker, or family member has active TB disease.
  • You live or have traveled to an area where TB is common, like Russia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
  • You’re part of a group where TB is more likely to spread, or you work or live with someone who is. This includes homeless people, people with HIV, and IV drug users.
  • You work or live in a hospital or nursing home.

A healthy immune system fights the TB bacteria. But if you have any of the following, you might not be able to fend off active TB disease:

Babies and young children also are at greater risk, because their immune systems aren’t fully formed.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on 3/, 017