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Implementation of the Diploma in Prevention of Use of Psychoactive Substances at the Intercontinental Technological University (UTIC) of Paraguay based on the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC)

Fernando Salazar Silva, Ph.D.
Profesor Principal
Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia

September 21st

As in other Latin American countries, in Paraguay, substance use is continually increasing, especially in the adolescent population. In response, government institutions and non- governmental organizations have administered a variety of prevention programs. However, many of these programs have lacked an evidence base, and the substance abuse prevention skills of those working in prevention are rudimentary at best. Furthermore, the role and competencies that this workforce should have is not precisely known.

In this scenario, the UTIC, with the support of ICUDDR and CICAD, has developed the Diploma in Prevention of Use of Psychoactive Substances based on the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) to contribute to the training of prevention coordinators and broaden the professional base in matters of prevention of the use of psychoactive substances and to promote the reduction of substance use in Paraguay and internationally.

An ad hoc team was organized to develop the proposal analyzing the academic-administrative requirements of the UTIC for diploma programs, this team was led by the Rector, and formed by the Academic Vice-Rector, the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Director of the Psychology Career, psychology professors and the university administrator who represent the instances where the proposal was reviewed.

In the academic aspects, the team reviewed the basic definitions of credit hours, curriculum and study plan, as well as the structure of the syllabus of the courses, then the contents and structure of the UPC Coordinators Series were reviewed. The UPC courses were adapted to be implemented as regular training courses based on syllabus, and an additional course was proposed to those of the UPC on Didactic and Training Strategies that preserves and reinforces the use of interactive education techniques and recognition of the learning strategies that are key to transferring the skills and knowledge acquired by those trained in the diploma to the effective implementation of the interventions. This process followed in the academic aspects allowed maintaining fidelity to the UPC and adapting it to the UTIC structure and led to the proposal being easily approved by the UTIC.

Once the academic proposal was approved, it was reviewed by the UTIC administration, who proposed asking the UPC regional trainers to be considered as guest lecturers at the university to make up for the lack of their own teachers trained in the various areas of the UPC. This opens the door to the need to create networks of prevention teachers and possibly networks of universities that can share and recognize training credits among themselves, as in the experience of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).

The need to train a prevention workforce is a latent problem in the region and the experience of the UTIC shows us that it is a task that requires regional cooperative work to adequately address drug demand reduction from a university perspective.