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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.
Food- and water-borne diseases are common in the Philippines.

Costly Healthcare

Compared to most other Asian countries, the out-of-pocket spending on healthcare has increased significantly in the Philippines in recent years. At the same time, public spending has declined. Patients now pay almost half of their healthcare costs themselves. Unfortunately, still less than half of the population is covered by healthcare in the Philippines.

Moreover, healthcare coverage does not guarantee financial protection or access to high-quality services. This is mostly due to the fact that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) offers only limited benefits. In fact, PHIC’s share of healthcare expenditure has grown very little since it was established in 1995. As public insurance plans only cover medical services up to a certain cost, patients face the remaining expenses.

Highly-Qualified Doctors

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

Many Filipino doctors have studied at first-rate medical schools around the world and bring 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 to choose, ask your friends or colleagues who live or have lived in the Philippines for recommendations. In urgent cases, the emergency numbers are 112 and 117, but the services might be limited in more remote areas.

Among expats, some of the most recommended hospitals in the Philippines seem to be:

Common Diseases That Might Pose a Health Risk

The majority of people moving to and living in the Philippines enjoy romantic lives in this paradisiacal archipelago. However, they do also face the far less romantic risk of catching one of the many infectious diseases prevalent in Southeast Asia. Major food-borne and water-borne infectious diseases include bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever. Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis pose considerable health threats as well. The water-contact disease leptospirosis is also a common ailment.

Unsurprisingly, the mosquito-borne diseases are ever-present in endemic areas of the Philippines, and the risk of infection is high. Other diseases are also prevalent among large parts of the population. For instance, tuberculosis still affects many people in the Philippines due to the lack of accessible healthcare in many parts of the country.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Jacques Paillard

"All expatriates in my company joined InterNations because it really helped me get accustomed to my new life in Manila. "

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

"The idea of getting to know other expats in Manila was very appealing to me, and I've greatly expanded my network in the Philippines. "

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