A capacity building workshop is underway to train officials in preventing substance use 

ToT: In what is cited as a stepping-stone for Bhutan in educating to prevent substance use, the second cycle of training of trainers completed yesterday in Thimphu.

A stakeholder meeting on international standards on drug use prevention early this year found that if the growing drug addiction or abuse issue in the country is to be addressed, it was still not late to start putting in place stringent ‘preventive’ measures.

Although there are several drug preventive programmes in the country, they do not have evidence-based effect.   Bhutan also needs to carry out timely study to assess the impact these programmes were making and improve them accordingly.

This training is the capacity building phase for the ‘evidence-based’ preventive interventions on substance use in the country.

A total of 19 participants including medical doctors, principals, teachers, police personnel and counsellors among others were trained on universal prevention curriculum for substance use (UPC) in last nine days. It is a curriculum of the Colombo Plan’s International Centre for Credentialing and Education of Addiction Pr ofessionals.

Bhutan Narcotics Control Agency’s deputy chief programme officer Dorji Tshering said by the end of next year, the 19 trainees will complete all nine curriculum of the UPC. They then become eligible to sit the credentialing examination, passing which will qualify them to become an international certified substance use prevention specialist.

“This means a big support for Bhutan. Right now we talk so much about prevention but not all prevention activities currently carried out are evidence based,” he said. “Each department is trying to do preventions on their own basis without specialised prevention professional.”

Once a pool of trainers is assembled, the prevention intervention will be rolled out for further training.

“Few years down the line we can look forward to seeing these evidence based interventions taking place within Bhutan,” Dorji Tshering said.

This prevention does not just limit to schools based prevention plans but all areas including workplace, family, environment and community based among others. Preventions intervention is broadly categorized into macro and micro levels.

Citing an example of micro level prevention intervention, he said if a child is exposed to an environment of drinking and smoking by parents, the child is vulnerable to initiate the habit at an early age.

“Through this training we plan to come up with packages of prevention programmes,” he said.

One of the trainees, principal of Phuentsholing MSS, Ngawang Dorji said schools are the most important place for prevention programmes and the content of the training included importance of school setting for substance use prevention.

The training, he said gave an insight of a child and adolescence development, which is crucial to understand before implementing the prevention interventions.

“The overreaching goal for prevention intervention programmes in schools should be demand reduction,” he said.

By Nirmala Pokhrel