Manila Public Health

What is the current situation regarding Manila public health?

The Department of Health

According to The Manila News-Intelligencer, the Department of Health (abbreviated as DOH; Filipino: Kagawaran ng Kalusugan) is the executive department of the Government of the Philippines responsible for ensuring access to basic public health services by all Filipinos through the provision of quality health care, the regulation of all health services and products. It is the government’s over-all technical authority on health. It has its headquarters at the San Lazaro Compound, along Rizal Avenue in Manila.

The head of the department is led by the Secretary of Health, currently Francisco Duque, nominated by the President of the Philippines and confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. The Health Secretary is a member of the Cabinet.

Barriers to healthcare – Manila public health

Poor communities suffer a higher burden of disease due to inequities in access to services and health status. Since financing for local government units often vary and the benefits package for insurance plans may be unfavorable, some communities face difficulties accessing public health services. Shifting the responsibility of healthcare from the federal government to the local governments has increased local authority and has made communities susceptible to lack of access to basic services. In addition, most healthcare payments are made out of pocket, especially when receiving care from privately owned institutions. Barangay health stations serve as primary public health facilities and are staffed by doctors, nurses, midwives, and barangay health volunteers.

There is no requirement in Metro Manila for causes of death to be medically determined prior to registration of a death, so national statistics as to causes of death in the Manila cannot be accurately substantiated. In the provinces, especially in places more remote from registries, births and deaths are often not recorded unless some family need arises, such as entry into college. When there is no legal process needed to pass on inheritance, the recording of deaths is viewed as unnecessary by the family.

Population – Manila public health

Metropolitan Manila (often shortened as Metro Manila; Filipino: Kalakhang Maynila), officially the National Capital Region (NCR; Filipino: Pambansang Punong Rehiyon), is the seat of government and one of three defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines. It is composed of 16 cities: the city of Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela, as well as the municipality of Pateros. The region encompasses an area of 619.57 square kilometers (239.22 sq mi) and a population of 12,877,253 as of 2015.  It is the second most populous and the most densely populated region of the Philippines. It is also the 9th most populous metropolitan area in Asia and the 5th most populous urban area in the world.

Philippine population

As of September 2020, Philippine has a population of nearly 110 million and a population density of 368 per Km2. 32% of the population of, Philippine are under 15 years old, and only 22.2% are over 60. In the Philippines, 16.6% of the population lived below the national poverty line in 2018.

Health Indicators

Health Indicators Male Female For Both Sex
Life Expectancy at birth (Years) 2016 66.2 72.6
Under 5 Mortality Rate (Per 1000 live births) 28.4
Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) (Per 100,000 live births) 121
Neonatal Mortality rate (Per 1000 live births) 13.5


Problems in Metro Manila Public Health

Metro Manila faces a large burden of disease:

Proportional Death due to NCDs

Metro Manila Public Health
Metro Manila Public Health

The main Non-Communicable Diseases are Diabetes, Heart disease, Stroke, Cancer, and Chronic diseases that affect the airways and lungs. While these diseases affect different parts of the body in different ways, they often share common origins.

Communicable diseases: Acute Respiratory Infection, Influenza A (H1N1), Bird Flu (Avian Influenza), Chickenpox, Cholera, Dengue, Diarrhea, Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, Influenza, Leprosy, Malaria, Measles, Meningococcemia, Pertussis, Poliomyelitis, Rabies, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Sore Eyes, Tuberculosis, Typhoid Fever

Health care in the Manila varies with private, public and barangay health centers (many in rural municipalities). Most of the national burden of health care is taken up by private health providers.

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization defines health care as an overall maintenance and solution to the health needs of a person, family, or community. It is a system that addresses these health needs are fulfilled through prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care. WHO states that the system needs financial stability, well-trained human resources (along with proper salary), proper information/data, and proper maintenance of up to date facilities to be able to deliver quality services, medicine, and researches.

According to, Health care in the Manila has been defined by the WHO as “fragmented”, meaning there’s a large gap between the quality and quantity of health services for the poor and the rich. With different reasons such as low budget, low number of man power, or general neglect for the poor, Metro Manila has always been unable to keep up with the high standards of healthcare abroad. Comparing data from 2014 between Manila, Los Angeles, and Toronto, Manila only spent 4.7% of their GDP on health while USA and Canada spent 17.1% and 10.4%. Efforts are being performed to bridge the gap. Last February 20, 2019, The Universal Health Care (UHC) Bill was signed into all, aiming to provide proper healthcare services for all.

The global pandemic and Manila public health

According to, the occasion of World Malaria Day amid a global pandemic warrants an examination of the intersection between our decades-long battle against the world’s oldest known fever and the newest known pathogen fueling a global pandemic.

In our estimation, one theme is abundantly clear: effective management of Covid-19 through coherent public-health responses protecting their people are underpinned by strong leadership. For months now, we are largely operating with the same set of public health guidance such as physical distancing and masking.

From Singapore to Spain, Mauritania to Manhattan, outcomes, however, have been radically different. Yes, capacities to test, track and treat vary widely; the poor face greater risk exposure. Even with these disparities, it is clear that leadership is key: from accepting the guidance of science to the role of communities in translating policies into action.

When national leadership decides to prioritize an issue, there is no question that progress will follow; malaria provides an excellent example. After two decades of strong political commitment and effective interventions, 21 countries from every region worldwide eliminated malaria, and many more are on the cusp of elimination. Some 7.6 million deaths have been averted since 2000.

How then, in the midst of a global pandemic, can we accelerate the fight against malaria? Indeed, what are relevant lessons from malaria for public health amid Covid-19?

Three areas are critical to reaccelerate the momentum and ensure malaria elimination remains a viable goal.

First, we must maintain the political will that drives leadership at multiple levels — families to communities to districts up to the national level.

Second, we need sustained financing for malaria and to communicate effectively to leaders the return on investment in terms of improved health outcomes.

Third, we must clearly articulate the link between malaria and health systems strengthening.

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