UNODC's UTC Journey in Pakistan

5 August 2019, Islamabad - To develop standardized and quality services for substance use disorders (SUD) in Pakistan, UNODC in collaboration with the Ministry of Narcotics Control (MNC), Government of Pakistan, initiated the training of approximately 100 drug dependence treatment professionals in Pakistan on the basic universal treatment curriculum (UTC). This activity is supported by the US Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). UTC is an evidence-based treatment protocol adhering to international standards for the treatment of SUD, with the objectives of reducing the significant health, social, and economic problems associated with this condition, by building international treatment capacity through training, professionalizing, and expanding the global treatment workforce. The training prepares for the professional certification, international certified addiction professional (ICAP-1), with all information on SUDs and their treatment, as well as facilitating hands-on activities to develop skills as national trainers.

UNODC took this multiphased intervention, from Phase 1 UTC trainings through UTC National Trainers, Phase 2 UTC Refresher Course and International Certified Addiction Professional (ICAP-1) Exam, to Phase 3 Training of Trainers (ToT), to prepare the second line of UTC trainers for Pakistan in August 2017.  

UNODC launched the basic level UTC trainings 1-8 at three locations: Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi, for 4 provinces and 2 administrative territories, in August 2018 with the assistance of the existing 13 UTC trainers. The participants were professionals from a diverse workforce - ranging between doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers - in the drug treatment field, working for over 2 years at different drug treatment centres in Pakistan. 

Four rounds of trainings were conducted at 3 locations to complete the nine curricula between August 2018 and January 2019. A total of 118 drug treatment professionals enrolled for these sessions, with an average completion rate of 97%, with some dropout due mostly to personal reasons. During the six months individual needs were met, based on priority, for many participants. The male to female ratio remained 50:50; with a total breakdown of 75% psychologists, 18% doctors/psychiatrists, and 6% social workers completing UTC courses 1-8 in 6 months.

In Phase 2, a 4-day UTC refresher course was organized for 3 groups totalling 116 drug treatment professionals, with the inputs of 3 international and 9 national UTC trainers, in Islamabad in March 2019. For this phase an additional 22 drug treatment professionals were enrolled from the Colombo Plan, having completed the basic UTC courses in 2016 and 2017. This 4-day refresher course was followed by the ICAP-1 exam on 30 March 2019 in Islamabad. The results of the exam have been very good, approx. 75% of the drug    treatment professionals being credentialed with ICAP-1 by the International Centre for   Credentialling and Education for Addiction Professionals (ICCE). Specifically, 53 psychologists, 15 doctors, and 3 social workers passed the ICAP-1 exam.


 The third phase (Phase 3) is in planning, wherein UNODC with the selection committee and the UTC national trainers is devising the criteria for participation at the TOT to be held in August 2019. The ToT aims to train 44 ICAP-1 certified professionals in 2 rounds, by a team   of international and national UTC trainers.