International Child Development Programme (ICDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recently re-established cooperation. On 22-23 of July, 2014, Nicoletta Armstrong, the ICDP chair, attended the Technical Working Group Meeting on Parent Skills Training for Developmental Disorders that took place at WHO headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland.

Objectives of the WHO meeting held on 22-23 July 2014:

- To discuss effective programme components and service delivery strategies of parent skills training programmes for parents of 2-9 years old children with developmental disorders, including ASD;
- To exchange information and share experiences about challenges in adapting and implementing parent skills training programs especially in low-resource settings;
- To consult on proposed session content and organization of training modules;
- To discuss next steps regarding further development of the program and pilot testing.

Click to see the Agenda and the List of Participants. The ICDP-WHO manual for the ICDP programme was distributed by WHO to all participants.

Concept note by WHO for the "Technical working group meeting on parent skills training for management of developmental disorders":

Developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, are a group of conditions with onset in infancy or childhood, characterized by impairment or delay in functions related to central nervous system maturation. Most affected children and families live in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), but services have proven inversely proportional to a country’s income (WHO, 2007) with a treatment gap of at least  80% in LMICs (Kieling, 2011). The lack of skilled human resources, especially at the primary health care and community level, is recognized as a major barrier to increasing service provision for children with ASD and other developmental disorders (Patel, 2013; WHO, 2013).
Several evidence reviews suggest that parents are able to learn the skills necessary to deliver therapies to their children with developmental disorders and that children benefit from these interventions (Matson, 2009; McConachie, 2007; Oono, 2013). Further, a systematic review of the literature demonstrates that non-specialists in community settings can effectively deliver parent training, providing support for the notion that low intensity programs improve child developmental and behavioral outcomes as well as family wellbeing (Reichow et al, 2013). The WHO mhGAP Intervention Guide for non-specialist service providers recommends parent training for management of developmental disorders when available. However, evidence-based parent skills training programs, delivered by non-specialist providers, that are affordable and can be feasibly implemented in low-resource settings (e.g. group format, low- intensity and duration) are not yet available to the public.
The WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, along with a number of experts in the field, recently conducted a review of available evidence on parent skills training programs with the aim of determining which program components and what service delivery strategies are most reliably associated with clinically-significant outcomes. The review will inform the development of a parent skills training program for equipping parents, especially in low resource settings, with knowledge and skills to help their children achieve optimal developmental potential and functioning. The program targets parents of children 2-9 years old.
The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse is therefore inviting a group of experts with experience in the development, adaptation, implementation and evaluation of parenting programs, professionals in the field, representative of parents’ organizations and other partners to advise and contribute to the development of the program.
The meeting will provide an opportunity to exchange information and share experiences about the challenges of implementing parent skills training programs especially in low-resource settings, share the results of the evidence review on parenting programs for developmental disorders, and review proposed session content and organization of the program along with preliminary training modules.
It is expected that the meeting will facilitate the establishment of a working group of interested collaborators who will contribute to further development of the program, revision and/or pilot testing.


A brief historical note about ICDP and WHO:

During the 1980-ies, some of the ICDP founders, including Pedro and Irina Mendes had been involved with the "Alfragide" educational and social project in Lisbon. It offered support to the refugee families from ex Portuguese colonies and it was here that the ICDP programme started to be tested out and later continued to be implemented for many years. In October of 1992, the WHO organized a symposium to evaluate the ICDP programme. The symposium had the support of the Portuguese Ministry of Health and it took place in Lisbon.

The Lisbon symposium was attended by John Orley, the director of WHO Mental Health Division in Geneva and by most of the ICDP founders, including Karsten Hundeide and Henning Rye who led the developments of the ICDP approach. There were other participants who had been linked to the MISC programme developed by Pnina Klein, a programme that had influenced the development of ICDP. The ICDP programme was presented by Karsten Hundeide, the key person in formulating the ICDP programme. ICDP received a very positive reception by WHO and an invitation for further cooperation. 

In 1993, John Orley participated in the ICDP workshop in Oslo that was led led by Karsten Hundeide and with the participation of two other ICDP founders, Wilbert Verheyen and Nicoletta Armstrong. 

Subsequently, WHO promoted ICDP at conferences and meetings in Jamaica, Italy, Portugal, Brazil and Colombia. Through recommendations by WHO, the Health Ministry in Colombia sponsored an ICDP project which was developed in Jamundi, near Cali.

In 1994, the early version of the ICDP manual in English, which had been prepared by Karsten Hundeide and Nicoletta Armstrong, was sent to WHO - it was adopted and subsequently published as a ICDP/WHO document: http://www.who.int/mental_health/media/en/29.pdf.

Photo collage showing some of the participants of the WHO meeting in July 2014.