Asia Pacific: The Philippines


The Philippines is an archipelago composed of 7,107 islands in the South China Sea. The population of 89 million is made up of various ethnic groups, including Tagalog (28%) and Cebuano (13%). About 81% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic, and the two major languages are English and Filipino. The Philippines boasts a high literacy rate of 93%. The GDP per capita is about $5,000. Still, 40% of Filipinos live in poverty, facing 12% unemployment and high inflation.
The country lies in a typhoon belt, and endures more than a dozen cyclonic storms per year in addition to landslides, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. While the Philippines has many natural resources, such as petroleum, timber and minerals, services provide over half the GDP.
The Philippines became a Spanish colony when Ferdinand Magellan first sighted the mountains of Leyte on 1521. In 1543, the land was christened Las Felipinas after King Philip II of Spain. The islands were ceded to the United States in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. In 1986, a widespread rebellion ended the 20-year rule of Ferdinand Marcos. Corazon Aquino then became the first female president. The current presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been marred by political instability and allegations of corruption. Today, a major political concern is the threat from both armed communist insurgencies and Muslim separatists.

Hemophilia in the Philippines
Approximately 8,800 Filipinos have hemophilia, but only 315 are registered with HAPLOS, the national hemophilia foundation. The government health sector is weak and under funded, although a strong private hospital system exists. Some factor is available, but is so expensive that patients must use human plasma products. A national health insurance plan provides some reimbursement for blood products, but most patients are poor and receive no treatment. Because of the vast number of islands, traveling to clinics for treatment is difficult.