Hospitals, pharmacies, emergencies

Where to go and what’s available

Hospitals, pharmacies, emergencies

There is private and public health-care available across the Philippines. Access may be limited in rural areas, but in cities and towns you can always reach a hospital, clinic or pharmacy.


The best hospitals are found in the Manila area, but well-equipped hospitals with a good standard of care can be found in most major cities. Those hospitals found in more rural areas and towns usually only provide a rudimentary service.

Most hospitals will require you to pay a charge when you arrive (like a down-payment) and you will have to pay the full bill before you leave. There have been cases where medical information, or even treatment, has been withheld on non-payment. That said, prices for hospital treatment are low compared to the west even in the top hospitals. You should always make sure you have health insurance that covers you should you need to be transferred home or to another hospital for treatment.

A popular hospital for expats is:

St Luke’s Hospital  - 279 E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon City; Tel: (011-63-2) 722-6161

This facility has a 24-hour emergency room and an ambulance service. The Philippines doesn’t have a national ambulance service so if you require one in Manila, call St. Luke’s Hospital. There are ambulances on standby is other regions, but the further away from a city you are the harder it will be to reach a hospital in an emergency.

For a comprehensive guide to hospitals contact your embassy website as they will have information on health-care providers.


Pharmacies are plentiful throughout the Philippines with most over the counter drugs available. Local grocery stores in rural areas will also sell simple supplies such as paracetamol, anti-diarrhea tablets, bandages, etc.

Prescription medicines are available, pharmacies in cities tend to be very strict when dispensing such drugs, whereas more rural places might not require you to show a prescription.

Medicines are generally cheap compared to western prices. Double check what you are buying as drugs may be sold under different names in different places, you need to be careful you are getting exactly what you need.

The following are some of the major pharmacy chains across the Philippines:

  • Mercury drug
  • Acme drugstore
  • South star drug
  • Watsons

Emergency numbers

It is only recently that a universal number for emergencies has been introduced in the Philippines. Before this there were separate numbers for each region.

117 is the national emergency number for police, fire and ambulance. 112 and 911 can be dialled from mobile phones and will redirect the caller to 117. 117 can also be reached through text message from any mobile phone.

Further reading

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