USAID RenewHealth - Expanding Access to Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation in the Philippines


Drug use and addiction in the Philippines is a national concern that impacts the security, health, and social and economic well-being of the Philippine people. The RenewHealth project seeks to address the problem by expanding access to evidence-based and culturally-appropriate community-based drug treatment and recovery (CBDR) services.


The Challenge

The Philippine Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) survey estimates there are 1.8 million drug users nationwide, yet the Government of the Philippines (GPH) believes this number is significantly higher. In 2016, the GPH launched a campaign against illegal drugs; 1.6 million people ‘surrendered’ to government authorities to avoid mandatory capture. The DDB declared that 95 percent of voluntary users who surrendered would be treated in communities. However, to date, only 15 percent of those who surrendered have received treatment. A government campaign has resulted in 170,689 drug-related arrests, leading to a 612 percent prison congestion rate. This overcrowding results in the spread of disease and preventable deaths. The Philippine Supreme Court has allowed plea bargaining for those with minor drug offenses. Plea bargainers may be granted conditional release upon completion of a community-based drug treatment program.



The RenewHealth Project aims to:

Enable healthy behaviors and demand CBDR services

The Problem: There is limited awareness of the health impact of drug use and low access to and uptake of CBDR services due to fear and limited availability of information about treatment and recovery services.

Action: The project will develop social and behavior change tools in support of CBDR as well as for secondary prevention, informal care, and self-help.

Fortify the quality of patient-centered and compassionate CBDR services

The Problem: Six major hurdles prevent clients from accessing essential evidence-based services:

  • Weak governance of the CBDR system
  • Lack of trained providers to apply localized evidence-based tools as a national standard for screening those who surrender
  • Most of those who surrender are sent for unnecessary full drug dependency evaluation creating a bottleneck as there are not enough accredited doctors to provide assessments
  • Absence of evidence-based and localized interventions for lower risk surrenders
  • Low adoption and technical capacity to provide evidence-based CBDR interventions
  • Lack of understanding and capacity at the local level to manage holistic CBDR programs and wrap-around services

Action: Enhance the quality of community-based treatment and services as well as the capacity of local health governance to deliver CBDR services.

Strengthen the policies and systems for sustainable CBDR service delivery

The Problem: The Philippines does not have a robust CBDR system and prioritizes a punitive response to drugs, concentrating resources in the criminal justice system resulting in congested courts and prisons.

Action: Address punitive drug laws and policies, lack of resources for mental health, lack of infrastructure and governance gaps, and lack of financial support for CBDR services. Three areas of work support this objective: policy dialogue and development, institutional strengthening, and improving sustainability and self-reliance for CBDR programs.





2019 to 2024
US Agency for International Development (USAID)
Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU)
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
Regions/ Countries