LOOKING  AT  HEALTH CARE
Health care options in the Philippines are usually determined by income and geography. Many villages are far from urban medical facilities. Furthermore, although the country has a good system of hospitals providing Western treatment, the system is two-tiered, with the majority of facilities being private; services are thus limited to those with financial means or medical insurance through their employers. However, certain public health services such as vaccinations and consultations are provided free in state dispensaries.

For some Filipinos, the doctor is a last resort, sought only in serious cases. Traditional medicines include herbal remedies for colds, headaches, stomach aches and liver and kidney problems. Thousands of traditional healers practise herbalism, massage, reflexology, laying-on of hands, bone setting and psychic healing. Alongside their Christian faith, Filipinos commonly believe in anitos (spirits) who are sometimes seen as the cause of illness. In certain remote areas, healers may use rituals to appease the invading spirit. Many healers are members of a union called the Espiritista Cristiana de Filipines.

The country's main health concern is malnutrition. A government program of food supplements for preschoolers and lactating mothers has had some success, and diets have improved over the last few decades. Other health problems include cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disorders; rates of tropical diseases such as dengue fever, typhoid and malaria are relatively low. The government has also launched prevention programs on drug abuse and HIV infection. Life expectancy averages 67 years; infant mortality, which has been declining, is now at 28 per 1,000 live births.

Visiting hours in Philippine hospitals are long and flexible. Some hospitals have rooms for two beds: one for the patient and the other for a family member who helps provide care. Even if a patient is in an Intensive Care Unit, family members and friends stop by to show support and bring gifts, such as food and flowers.




  Did you know?
Filipino "psychic surgeons" claim to perform operations without any tools or bloodshed. Many Western scientists have studied the healers and documented cases that seem to prove these healers' abilities.