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Self learning on alcohol and drug policy


The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) has introduced Self-Learning Courses on several aspects of alcohol and drug harm and policy. The virtual courses may be accessed by anyone and are available in English and Spanish.

Øystein Bakke

Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), which is the World Health Organization (WHO) region for the Americas, is running an elaborate self-learning center, the Virtual Campus for Public Health (VCPH) via the internet. There are various forms of learning and the self-learning courses are those in which the way to learn is mainly by yourself. Learning materials and resources are provided, the individual search for other sources of information is promoted and self-evaluation tools are included to assess knowledge. In some of these courses, self-enrollment is necessary to obtain an online certificate.

Among the self-learning courses are two courses on alcohol and drug policies:

  • Course on Policy for Alcohol and Other Substance Use
  • Course on Drug Policy and Public Health

These two courses are available in English and Spanish

There are also two other courses, on the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test/Screening and Brief Intervention (AUDIT/SBI) in Spanish.

The course on alcohol and drug policy is divided into two parts, one on alcohol policy and one on drug policy. The  alcohol part describe the scientific bases of alcohol policies from a public health perspective in 14 modules, including alcohol in society, epidemiology, health effects, the alcohol policy, the policy space and various policy measures.

The drug part is also based on the public health perspective. This part describes the impact of various policies, the harms of various substances as well as why people use drugs. It also outlines the various policies including supply control measures, demand and harm reduction strategies.

While the courses draws examples and relates the topic to the situation in Latin America, its scope reaches well beyond the American continent.

See the courses here:



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