Islamic Republic of Iran


UNODC Conducted Training of Trainers for Strong Families Programme


Globally, countries are facing various humanitarian crises and challenging times. Throughout these difficult times, caregivers have a critical role in protecting children’s well-being which might be affected by social/political unrest, conflict/post-conflict settings, or underserved areas. Children and youth are at a greater risk as there might be numerous unaddressed vulnerabilities associated with poor health and developmental outcomes, such as poor mental health, violence, lower educational achievement, and substance use. The vulnerability faced by children is further increased by family instability or poor caregiver mental health, due to prolonged periods of stress. Parents or caregivers undergoing high stress are less likely to provide children with positive interactions, and, instead, more likely to engage in harsh parenting, increasing children’s risk of a variety of lasting emotional and behavioral problems.  

To support breaking the vicious cycle of families reproducing negative coping patterns, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been implementing a global initiative on prevention piloting evidence-based family skills prevention in low- and middle-income countries globally. The designed programme, called the Strong Families Programme, is a light-touch family skills programme, focusing on supporting caregiving during stressful situations.

The importance of taking concrete action was reiterated by the Country Representative of UNODC Iran, Mr. Alexander Fedulov who referred to “the global challenge of drug use posing a threat to societies globally” which is also affecting “Iran and countries in the region affected by non-medical drug use.” He called for “renewed efforts to support the prevention of drug misuse and the treatment of drug use disorders, including services aimed at reducing the adverse health consequences of drug use.”

In continuation of its efforts to implement the Strong Families Programme in Iran since 2019, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Iran (UNODC) concluded implementation of the second phase of training of trainers for the Strong Families Programme with the support from the Iranian Drug Control Headquarters (DCHQ) and Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education (MOH) as well as the trainers from UNODC HQ in Vienna, Dr. Aala El-Khani and Dr. Karin Haar, participating virtually in early December 2022. The 5-day training, held on 4 – 8 December in Mashhad, Khorassan Razavi Province, was a hybrid training for the facilitators of the Strong Families Programme in preparation for the expanded implementation of the programme in Iran. The second phase of the training comes following the success of the semi-virtual training for Strong Families Programme held on 6-16 December 2021 in Tehran, and the second round of pilot starts following the present training in the seven provinces of Khorasan Razavi, Kerman, Khuzestan, Lorestan, Hormozgan, Sistan & Baluchistan and Tehran capital. The attendees of this training were facilitators from the Ministry of Health and Medical Education of the Strong Families programme, 52 experts from the Health Centers from seven provinces of Khorasan Razavi, Kerman, Khuzestan, Lorestan, Hormozgan, Sistan & Baluchistan and Tehran, as well as the representatives from the Coordination Association of Drug Control of the same provinces.

This training was designed in a way that it used the capacities of the master national trainers of the Ministry of Health previously trained by UNODC Iran alongside the guidance received from the international trainers from UNODC HQ in Vienna taking the facilitators through the seven steps of the Strong Families Programme. Trainees practice the training exercises in groups, and the international trainers provided their comments and instructions of the exercises.

The European Union generously funded the implementation of the Strong Families program in Iran in 2022, which allows UNODC Iran to initiate implementing the programme in provinces like Khorasan Razavi.