UNODC and Brazil's Ministry of Health expand Brazilian version of drug use prevention program in schools

Brasília, 21 August 2014 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Brazil's General Department for Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs conducted this month a new training of multipliers, as part of the expansion of a program that has been adapted to the Brazilian context to prevent drug use in schools.

The program called #Tamojunto promotes discussions among students between ten and 14 years old, in a relaxed and accessible language, in order to address several issues and stressful situations that may lead teenagers to use drugs. Through discussions led by teachers in classrooms, the program strengthens many protective factors, such as psychological wellbeing and good relationships with parents, which make students less vulnerable to drug use and other negative behaviors.

According to Brazil's General Coordinator for Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Dr. Roberto Tykanori, implementing this program in Brazilian schools will not only contribute to reduce drug abuse, but it will also help teenagers develop many life skills and strengthen ties with teachers. Tykanori also emphasized that the program brings together health and education through intersectoral actions.

#Tamojunto is the first Brazilian version of a methodology developed by European researchers called Unplugged, which was tested in Brazil for the first time in 2013 in a pre-pilot phase. Now the UNODC Liaison and Partnership Office in Brazil and the General Department for Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs are expanding the program to the country's five regions.

Transferring foreign technology by training multipliers

On 13 and 14 August, about 30 professionals from the fields of health, education and alcohol and other drugs participated in a training session in Brasília to become local multipliers of the program. This training was conducted by the program's national multipliers, who were trained in 2013 during workshops for transferring the Unplugged technology, still in the pre-pilot phase.

Named by administrators of the municipalities of Curitiba, Fortaleza and João Pessoa, and also from the states of Paraíba and Acre and from the Federal District, the local multipliers trained in Brasília will capacitate and supervise the teachers and health professionals who will implement #Tamojunto in municipal and state schools in their territories, with the support of the national multipliers. Professionals from state and municipal secretaries of São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo and Taboão da Serra were also trained as local multipliers earlier this month in São Paulo.

According to the Representative of the UNODC Liaison and Partnership Office in Brazil, Rafael Franzini, "with the training of local multipliers, who are part of local governments, this program resulting from an international cooperation project achieves sustainability in the country and ensures territories' autonomy in its implementation. The success of this experience in Brazil indicates that this model could be taken to other countries in the region."

Expansion of the #Tamojunto program

In the second half of 2013, schools in São Paulo, São Bernardo de Campo and Florianópolis participated in the program's pre-pilot phase, applying a version of the Unplugged methodology that had been translated to Portuguese. In early 2014, the adaptation of the Unplugged methodology to the Brazilian context was finished. The Brazilian version was called #Tamojunto, a name chosen by the students of the schools that received the program's pre-pilot phase.

In addition to the three municipalities that participated in the pre-pilot phase, in the first half of 2014 #Tamojuntowas taken to schools in Curitiba, Distrito Federal, Fortaleza, João Pessoa and Tubarão, reaching over 5,500 students. In the second half of this year, the program will be expanded by the newly trained local multipliers to new schools in the participating cities, as well as to the municipalities of Taboão da Serra, in São Paulo, and Rio Branco and Cruzeiro do Sul, in Acre.

The Federal Universities of São Paulo and Santa Catarina are conducting studies on the program's efficiency at participating schools in their respective states. The introduction, cultural adaptation and evaluation of #Tamojunto, among other prevention programs, are carried out under the cooperation project "Integral Care for Children and Young People in Situations of Vulnerability and Risk for Violence and Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs", implemented by UNODC with the General Department for Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs of Brazil's Ministry of Health.

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