The Philippine Scenario


The Philippines is one of the Southeast Asian countries plagued with malaria. Although the country does not contribute significantly to the global mortality attributed to malaria, the disease remains to be a major cause of “healthy days of life lost” (HDLL) in the endemic areas of the country.[1] Malaria affects the socioeconomic well-being of the affected population, and the different socioeconomic activities affect transmission, prevention, and control of the disease. Thus, this situation not only generates an enormous economic, social and health burden to these people per se, but also poses a huge and persistent challenge to the health deliverers of the Malaria Control Program.[2]

Malaria as a Health Problem

· It is the eighth leading cause of morbidity in the Philippines. (HIS 2000)[3]

· According to DOH Secretary Reynaldo Duque, “an average of three Filipinos die daily due to malaria despite the government’s intensified efforts to control the occurrence of the ailment”.[4]

· “Malaria has become a health threat following the infection of Reyster Langit, the son of broadcaster Rey Langit, after a sortie in Palawan where they checked on reports that a tribe is slowly dying because of an unknown disease, which, health experts said, could be malaria.”[5]

· Although malaria endemicity is now generally moderate to low, the disease continues to be a major impediment to human and economic development in areas where it persists[6]

· This disease is still endemic in 65 of the 79 provinces in the country, and around 10 million people who live in these areas are at risk of getting the disease.[7]

· Morbidity trend suggest that there might be a cause and effect relationship between the activities which aim to eradicate malaria and its incidence 13

· There is a decreasing number of deaths caused by malaria13

· Chloroquine, the cheapest medicine against malaria is losing its effectiveness14


Malaria as a Health Services Problem

· It poses challenges of access to health care for prompt and effective treatment[8]

· There are shortages of antimalarial drug supplies, especially in peripheral health centers[9]

· The disease still costs the Philippine economy to spend over Php 100 million in order to sustain control efforts[10]

· Failures in treatment still occur despite the preventability of malaria.

· Causes of Malaria Treatment Failure in the Philippines (Burton et al, 1992)[11]

o Drug resistance

o Non-compliance of patients in the treatment regimen

o Deficient drug absorption

o Self-medication

o Resorting to herbal remedies

o Seeking help when the disease is severe (Malaria is fatal only when it is seen in its later stages.)

Epidemiology of malaria is complex, due to

o Variety of ecological conditions observed in different island groups

o Occurrence of more than one vector species[12]

[1] Epidemiological Aspects of Malaria in the Philippines

[1] State-of-the-Art Malaria Research in the Philippines


[1] Sun.Star E-Magazine, June 4, 2005.

[1] Manila Bulletin, June 2, 2005.


[1] State-of-the-Art Malaria Research in the Philippines





[1] State-of-the-Art Malaria Research in the Philippines

13 Department of Health, 1993

14 Roll Back Malaria, 1999


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