Implementation of the Diploma in Prevention of Use of Psychoactive Substances at the
Intercontinental Technological University (UTIC) of Paraguay based on the Universal Prevention
Fernando Salazar Silva, Ph.D.
Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
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.