While visitors who stick to cities such as Manila will face little risk of contracting diseases or infections, the risk is slightly higher for those who choose to explore jungle areas and remote villages.
The Philippines boasts an excellent healthcare system, and visitors will receive world-class medical care in Manila and all other major cities. Large resorts on islands such as Mindanao often boast their own medical practitioners, while tourist hotspots should also feature medical facilities.
Healthcare in the Philippines
Although levels of health care are generally high in the Philippines, the standard of attention that you receive obviously depends in part upon where you are. Although doctors and other medical practitioners that can be found in Manila and other cities have often been educated in the USA or other Western countries, this is less likely to be the care in remote areas of the country.
However, the good news is that most medical practitioners throughout the Philippines speak a good level of English and there are usually plenty of facilities to choose from. But ensure you take out good quality travel insurance before setting off.
Tourists who are planning to spend time exploring remote islands and jungles should consider taking a first aid kit with them, as medical attention may be several hours away. It is also a good idea to carry extra supplies of any medication that you usually take with you in case it becomes damaged by moisture or the heat.
Health risks to bear in mind in the Philippines
Swine flu (H1N1): While illnesses such as A (H1N1) that resemble flu tend to emerge during the onset of the rainy season, they can easily be immunised against before travelling to the Philippines. Due to the diligent precautionary measures that were taken by the government, cases of swine flu are diminishing rapidly.
Dengue fever: Spread by mosquitoes, dengue fever can be a problem in remote villages that are located near stagnant water and jungle zones. The risks of contracting the disease can be significantly minimized by covering up after dark, applying mosquito repellent and sleeping under a net.
Dehydration: Brought on by the heat and humidity of the Philippines, dehydration can easily be avoided by those who take precautions. Always carry a bottle of drinking water while exploring, taking small sips at regular intervals. Wearing sunhats and sunglasses can also help prevent dehydration.
Diarrhoea: While not usually serious, diarrhoea is an inconvenience that is suffered by most visitors at some point who are unused to the local food. However, anti-diarrhoeal medication can be purchased from pharmacies throughout the Philippines, which eliminate the problem in just a few hours.
Drinking water: Although many people swear that they regularly drink the tap water in the Philippines and are fine, this is an unnecessary risk, especially as bottled water is cheap and readily available in places such as 7Eleven and other convenience stores all over the country.
Food: Generally speaking, levels of food hygiene are good in the Philippines. There are always exceptions, however, and visitors should exercise common sense, avoiding eating at food stalls and restaurants where food has been left sitting out in the sun for long periods of time.
Hepatitis: Hepatitis B can be contracted from blood transfusions and unprotected sex. Visitors to the Philippines should get vaccinated against hepatitis before travelling.
HIV: Condoms are easy to come by in the Philippines and should always be worn when having sex. HIV is widespread in cities such as Manila, which is notorious for its sex trade.
Rabies: There are a large number of stray dogs and other animals in the Philippines, and it is impossible to know at a glance which animals have rabies and those are clean. Make sure you have an up to date rabies shot before travelling and avoid interacting with strange animals.
STDs: Sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and herpes are rampant in the Philippines, particularly due to the sex trade. Always wear a condom.
Tropical infections: If left untreated cuts and scratches can easily become infected in this tropical climate, and it is important to make sure that they are disinfected straight away with an antiseptic solution such as Betedine.