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The Philippines at a Glance

The Philippines: Healthcare and Diseases

Living in the Philippines, you will experience a fascinating Southeast-Asian culture. Influenced by Spanish and US colonialism, the way of life there is truly unique. For a first glimpse of life in the Philippines, read our guide on housing, healthcare, education, and safety for expats.

Healthcare

Unlike in other Asian countries, the out-of-pocket spending on healthcare has increased tremendously in the Philippines in recent years. At the same time, public spending has declined. Patients now almost pay half of their healthcare costs out of their own pockets. Unfortunately, with less than half of the population being covered, healthcare coverage is still low in the Philippines.

Moreover, healthcare coverage does not guarantee financial protection or access to good quality services. Most of this is due to the fact that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) offers only limited benefits. Patients also face difficulties in accessing these benefits. In fact, the share of expenditure of the PHIC has hardly grown since it was established in 1995. Since public insurance plans only cover health services up to very low costs, patients are left with the remaining expenses.

Doctors and Hospitals

Doctors’ practices and hospitals can be found all over the Philippines. While the standard is decent, it may not be up to what you are used to if you are from a Western country. However, even public hospitals usually have very well-trained staff with a high proficiency in English.

Many Filipino doctors have studied at top-notch medical schools around the world, bringing excellent professional qualifications to the table. The same applies to the nursing staff of public and private hospitals. If you are unsure which hospital, doctor or dentist is a good choice, ask those friends or colleagues who have already lived in the Philippines for a while for recommendations.

Among expats, some of the most recommended hospitals in the Philippines are:

Common Diseases

It might seem like people moving to and living in the Philippines enjoy a romantic life in paradise. However, they are also in danger of catching one of the many infectious diseases prevalent in South-East Asia. Major food- or water-borne infectious diseases include bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever. Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and Japanese encephalitis pose a major health threat as well. The water-contact disease leptospirosis is also considered a common ailment.

It may not be surprising that mosquito-borne diseases like the ones mentioned above are ever present in endemic areas of the Philippines and that the risk of infection is high. However, other diseases are also prevalent among large parts of the population. Thus, tuberculosis still affects many people in the Philippines, due to the lack of accessible healthcare in many parts of the country.

InterNations Expat Magazine