Staying Healthy in the Philippines.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before traveling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic (such as the Travel Doctor) for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health (particularly if you have an existing medical condition). The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travelers and Smartraveller health page also provides travelers with useful information on staying healthy.
Medical facilities in the Philippines are adequate in major cities but are very limited in provincial regions and remote islands. Major private hospitals, particularly in Metro Manila, are well equipped and internationally accredited. Most hospitals will require up-front payment or guarantee of payment prior to commencing treatment, which can be expensive. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the required facilities may be necessary. Medical evacuation costs are considerable.
Pre-travel preparation will help protect your health while you are away. Below are some suggestions in reference to the major health risks you may face while holidaying in the Philippines:
- Malaria is endemic in many provincial regions of the Philippines but does not affect the capital Manila. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria where necessary. You should take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
- Dengue fever has been on the rise in Manila and neighbouring provinces along with outbreaks of other mosquito-borne diseases (including Japanese encephalitis and filariasis) in many areas particularly during the rainy season between May and December. There is no vaccination or specific treatment available for dengue.
- Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, measles, meningitis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis) and leptospirosis. There are reports of pollution causing illness to swimmers in coastal resort areas. Always check with local authorities before swimming.
- Following flooding, travellers should be aware of the potential for outbreaks of leptospirosis and gastro-related illnesses. You should be aware that the high risk of contracting a water-borne disease continues after floods recede. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
- Ciguatera poisoning from eating reef fish can be a hazard. For more information on ciguatera poisoning see Queensland Health’s fact sheet.
- Avoid temporary ‘black henna’ tattoos as they often contain a dye which can cause serious skin reactions.
smartraveller.gov.au. 2016. Philippines. [ONLINE], http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/philippines, 30 November 16.