Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in the Americas

Primary Prevention in Latin America

A National Preventive Education Plan in the period of 1987-1989 was carried out. NGO's are involved in formulating and executing preventive programmes. Primary preventive models that predominated prevention efforts are those classified as ethical-legal and medical-health models. Publicity campaigns were designed for television and radio and received inofficial collaboration from professional health workers, law enforcement agencies and private organizations (PAHO 1990; CMO 1991).

             Preventive education programmes were introduced in schools since 1989. Community wide leisure programmes for youth and parents aim to provide drugless alternative activities. Various (CMO 1991).

            Drug prevention and treatment are part of the basic and continuing education of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, law enforcement personnel and teachers (CMO 1991).


In the period of 1987-1991, prevention seminars targeted secondary schools students, teachers, mothers, and other youth. Teachers were trained in drug abuse prevention techniques in some areas and there are plans to extend the teacher training programme to other regions. Similar training is given to doctors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, social therapists, health technicians and the police. Leisure activities for high school students were organized during 1990 as a prevention activity (CMO 1991).


A UN funded national prevention campaign conducted in 1990 is the only reported national primary prevention programme in Brazil (PAHO 1990).

            Courses on drug abuse prevention are offered to physicians, the principle health professionals invovled in treating drug abuse, by several professional organizations. No educational institutions are reported to offer such courses at the undergraduate or graduate levels (U.N. 1988).


There have been drug prevention education programmes in schools at the primary and secondary levels since 1976. Prevention activities, including seminars, courses and speeches, are available for parents and other targeted groups. In 1990-1991, mass media promoted prevention programmes for both the whole community and specific groups. Basic drug education training programmes are part of the formal education of doctors, nurses, health workers, teachers and law enforcement personnel . There is also further training for all these groups, with the exception of the law enforcement personnel (CMO 1991).

            Prevention programmes are also organized by civic groups, voluntary organizations, religious groups, sports clubs and other NGOs. At the national level, courses are coordinated by the Ministry of Education. Leisure time activities are also organized by the Ministry of Health in order to improve interpersonal relationships, strengthen local identity and provide favorable atmosphere for spending free time constructively (CMO 1991).


The government is making some efforts to reduce drug consumption through prevention. Drug education programmes are provided to professionals, basic training to doctors, nurses and teachers, pharmacists and social workers. Drug education training workshops are organized for some businesses and organizations (about 1 per cent of work force). Drug prevention activities target youth and street children, as well as higher education students. The media is often used to promote drug prevention programmes (CMO 1990).

            Efforts are also aimed at the training and education of health workers to enable them to direct prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of abusers of "papoula" (poppy) derivatives (CMO 1990).

            UNDCP assisted Colombia's prevention programmes in 1991-1993 by contributing about 2 million dollars (CMO 1990; U.N. 1992).


Prevention programmes target students and teachers since 1987. In 1988-1992, publicity campaigns aimed at the whole population were carried by the mass media (TV, radio) with the collaboration of various ministries, private enterprises, detention centers and health professionals (CMO 1991).

            There are also specific prevention activities and programmes for parents and children living in risk and marginal urban areas, as well for university students, community leaders and voluntaries (CMO 1991).

            Ecuador receives technical and financial support for prevention programmes by the UNDCP, AID and UNESCO (CMO 1991)


The Committee of Preventive Education organized training activities on a formal level. In 1988, the first activities took place for directors and teachers. In 1989, five training courses were organized leading to the formation of 510 teachers to act as multiplying agents in preventive education (U.N. 1990).

            In 1990, the bi-lateral agreement between Argentina and Uruguay was approved for Preventive Education about drugs, and a project was also ellaborated for dealing with the pharmacodepency problem in the Brazil-Uruguay border (U.N. 1990).


The CONACUID, Ministries of Education and Justice coordinate prevention programmes. Prevention programmes were introduced in primary and secondary schools in 1990. These include courses and presentations targeting students and parents, as well as drug abuse training courses for teachers. Prevention programmes also aimed at community leaders and sportsmen. Random testing at the work place is used as a measure to prevent drug abuse among employees, especially if a suspicion of abuse exists. Random testing is also used during rehabilitation and as part of routine health check-ups. An Anti-Doping Law requires random testing among athletes. Some of these programmes are supported by the European Center Against Drugs which provides technical assistance (CMO 1991).

            Mass media such as television, radio and newspapers are active in the campaign against drug abuse. Since 1981, the advertising of alcohol and cigarettes on radio and television has been prohibited and enforced effectively (PAHO 1990).