MANILA, Nov 25 (Mabuhay) — The United States government has launched a PHP5-million livelihood program to support Filipino nationals who are recovering from substance use disorder.

The launch was held virtually on Wednesday together with representatives from the Dangerous Drugs Board, Department of Health, and 12 local government units.

The “Ako ang Saklay” project is a joint initiative between the US Embassy’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

It will be implemented for a span of two years by Ako ang Saklay Inc., a civil society organization from Central Luzon that provides community-based drug rehabilitation, which will facilitate livelihood skills training, introduce income-generating opportunities, and secure job placements for recovering drug users in 12 pilot areas.

Included in the program are the cities of Caloocan, Makati, Marikina, Pasig, Quezon City, Valenzuela, and Calamba, and the provinces of Palawan, Cavite, Tarlac, Ifugao, and Nueva Ecija.

“Livelihood programs, such as those facilitated by Ako ang Saklay, can result in quality-of-life changes for persons who use drugs, their families, and their communities,” INL representative Mark Everson said.

Fr. Arnold Abelardo, founder of Ako ang Saklay Inc., said, “This livelihood initiative will contribute to the comprehensive rehabilitation program of Ako ang Saklay, complementing the whole-of-nation approach by the government, and will eventually provide hope for persons who use drugs and their families.”

The program aims to boost the capacity of local government to train practitioners on evidence-based treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration approaches.

The Embassy said its funding is part of INL’s broader drug demand reduction program in the Philippines, which is designed to improve awareness, augment the use of preventive measures, and engage multisectoral stakeholders in recovery and reintegration efforts for persons with substance use disorder. (MNS)

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