The 'dop' system around Stellenbosch--results of a farm survey

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South African Medical Journal

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OBJECTIVES: To document the number of farms operating a 'dop' system (payment of workers with alcohol instead of wages), to estimate the number of farm workers affected, to describe how the system operated and to characterise adverse social conditions on the farms. POPULATION: Farms served by the mobile clinics of the Cape Metropolitan Council's Health Department in the Stellenbosch area. METHODS: Cross-sectional prevalence survey. Nurses collected data from patients attending mobile clinics. RESULTS: A prevalence of 9.5% was detected in respect of farms operating the dop system, with an estimated 780 workers affected. The most common practice was a daily provision of 750 ml wine to male workers. Social conditions on the farms in question were poor and wages were low. Child malnutrition was the most common health problem identified. CONCLUSION: The dop system, although illegal, has been documented to occur in the Stellenbosch area. Programmes to address the dop system and alcohol abuse, based on a primary health care approach, are a priority in the rural areas of the Western Cape.