The Freedom Drugs and HIV Programme is a creative and effective programme providing rehabilitation, integration and empowerment to drug addicts. It is probably the first and largest programme of its kind in Egypt and the Arab world. It was established in 1989. It now includes 28 Drug rehabilitation centres in Cairo, Giza, Helwan, 6th October, Kalyoubia, Beheira and Alexandria that offer 855 beds for the 3 to 6 months rehabilitation program. In addition Freedom runs an outreach and drop-in centre, two training centres and a large reclamation farm, the revenue of which is directed towards the rehabilitation costs of addicts who cannot pay. Freedom also has a scientific research department conducting original research in partnership with prestigious national and international bodies.
In response to the fear of an increased spread of HIV in 2003, the Freedom Program started the first outreach for HIV prevention among Cairo’s streets Intravenous Drug Users (IDUs).
The Freedom Program provide services every year to 2200 – 2500 addicts, 1000-1200 achieve stable abstinence and an extra 1200-1500 street addicts are reached for HIV prevention. Each year more than 20 different NGOs, CBOs or Youth agencies and 300 leaders are trained and mobilized to reach out for about 20,000 young people per year to benefit from prevention program.
Freedom Program has played an important and active effective advocacy role in the prevention of substance abuse and HIV risk behaviour; it advocated for the abolishing of stigma, helped in a legal reform process and defended the rights of addicts, vulnerable youth, children and women.
It also runs one of the largest training programmes in the Arab region. Founders and Leaders of the programme play a significant role in addressing the National and Regional challenges of Drug Addiction and HIV/ AIDs with Arab Governments, UNDP and other local National and International organizations.
The rate of relapse among subsidized and free of charge clients is still higher than their more well off peers; this can be largely attributed to the difference in post program social support systems and possibilities of employment. We sense an urgent need to start an up to scale program addressing the vocational and literacy needs of addicts coming from impoverished and beleaguered backgrounds, as well as their addictive behaviour and psychological needs .