Before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Philippines, the USAID RenewHealth Project – led by URC – already had partnered with the city to enhance its efforts in drug-demand reduction. RenewHealth is a five-year project that promotes social integration for people who use drugs and increases the accessibility of community drug treatment and rehabilitation.
Early in the pandemic, RenewHealth helped the city adapt to stay-at-home measures by training community facilitators to conduct CBDR services online. The project also donated laptop computers, tablets, and pocket Wi-Fi devices.
“We were able to continue servicing our clients using online interventions and digital materials provided by USAID RenewHeath,” Zalun said. “We also received monitoring tools to check the progress of our clients and developed self-care strategies to manage computer and compassion fatigue.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic caused a decrease in CBDR service delivery in most local governments in the Philippines, in Caloocan City pod leaders and church volunteers persevered through their own locally designed pod system and with support from RenewHealth.
As a result, the number of clients enrolled, treated, and those who completed CBDR from 2019 to 2021 steadily increased, demonstrating how strong local systems, faith-based solutions, and committed leadership builds resilience among communities and enables marginalized populations to access life-saving support when they need it most.