© Lam Duc Hien


deaths in the Philippines every year attributed to environmental factors


people living in Zone 84, a densely populated area of mostly informal housing in Manila

69 %

of new HIV cases affect 15-24-year-olds

Médecins du Monde’s emergency response includes a range of humanitarian assistance programmes. Find out more below about our work and missions in the Philippines.


According to the World Bank, a third of people in the Philippines live in informal settlements. Around 1.5 million people in the capital Manila live in areas that are particularly susceptible to disaster, especially flooding.

The country faces many environmental issues and health problems, from precarious housing to natural disasters and difficult living conditions.



    Given the adverse living conditions, poor waste management and limited access to hygiene and sewage systems, these vulnerable communities face greater exposure to climate-related and health risks.


    They are often socially excluded and are affected by the lack of a social support system, hazardous living and working conditions, discrimination and isolation. Moreover, the poorest families are not automatically enrolled in PhilHealth, the Filipino health insurance system, meaning they are even more vulnerable if they become ill.


    According to recent demographic and health studies in the Philippines, 9% of girls aged between 15 and 19 are pregnant. The highest numbers are found in the region of Metropolitan Manila, with a pregnancy rate of 17.7% among adolescent girls. Many women don’t have access to modern methods of contraception and abortion remains illegal, with no exceptions.


    At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN estimated that there would be 751,000 additional unwanted pregnancies in 2020 and that cases of gender-based violence were set to rise by 20% compared with 2019.


    The Philippines is ranked by UNAIDS as the country with the fastest growing rate of HIV in the world. The region of Metropolitan Manila accounts for 80% of all cases and 69% of new cases are recorded in people aged 15-24.


    The lockdown and curfew measures imposed by the authorities in the Philippines were among the strictest in the world. During 2021 Metropolitan Manila was significantly affected for months by lockdowns of fluctuating severity and recurrent outbreaks of Covid-19.

    The impact of the pandemic is particularly serious for people living in densely populated urban areas where there is limited access to healthcare and hygiene practices and sewage systems are inadequate. These areas were identified as ‘high risk’ by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, since they are experiencing a double crisis, both in terms of health and socially.

    The Philippines Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) estimates that the lockdowns limited access to contraception for around 700,000 people. Of these around 20% are thought to be young people aged between 10 and 24.
    The University of the Philippines and UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) also calculated that one in three women did not have access to family planning during the pandemic period. Moreover, the under-secretary of POPCOM has said that family planning coverage suffered a setback of around two years.

Philippines RDR

© Lam Duc Hien


Médecins du Monde’s work is focused on specific issues, in particular waste management and educating young women about sexual health.


Médecins du Monde’s health and environment project in the Philippines is based in San Andres, in Manila. The majority of people here live in informal settlements and in shacks crowded into low-lying land that was previously swamp and is still regularly flooded during the rainy season. Médecins du Monde has been working since 2018 with the people who live here, supporting them to identify and mitigate the risks associated with their precarious living environment.


    The project originally began in Barangay 775, a district of Manila, and was extended in 2021 to cover Zone 84, an area where around 40,000 people live in 6 barangays, including Barangay 775. Years of activities and community empowerment work have been supported with the help of volunteers from the AYOS project (‘Let’s go!’ in Tagalog).


    Médecins du Monde supported the establishment of the local organisation by getting former volunteers involved in the project. Together and with our support the residents of Zone 84 and volunteers from the organisation are seeking to make their neighbourhoods ‘clean, green and safe’.


    In 2021, Médecins du Monde worked with the residents to improve the management of solid waste. Throughout the 6 barangays food waste is composted and then used for urban gardens. Clean-up campaigns have also been organised. We have continued to educate the residents of Zone 84 about Covid-19, providing information about preventative measures, good hygiene practices and disaster preparation. We have also offered training in first aid and how to manage outbreaks of fire.


    Médecins du Monde has supported the health authorities to establish barangay healthcare units – three units were set up in 2021 and another three are planned for 2022.


    Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and resulting heavy restrictions, the project activities were delivered and the project volunteers played an active role in their communities, educating people about the risks of Covid-19 and facilitating access to vaccination for residents who wanted it.


    In 2021, through our humanitarian mission in the Philippines, we: 

    • educated 4,000 families about Covid-19, preventative measures and disaster preparedness,
    • established 3 local healthcare units in 3 barangays in Zone 84,
    • trained 26 members of healthcare staff and volunteers from these units in first aid and caring for people with chronic illnesses,
    • supported 2,087 people to access vaccination against Covid-19,
    • conducted 1 survey in Zone 84 to investigate awareness about environmental health and health behaviours; the survey was
    • carried out in July 2021 and concluded that access to healthcare services was widely disrupted during the pandemic and that families had experienced a deterioration in their mental health.



    In July 2020, Médecins du Monde in the Philippines launched a new humanitarian project in partnership with Community and Family Services International (CFSI). The aim was to help to protect and improve sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the city of Pasay, in the Greater Manila Area.


    This three-year humanitarian project is targeted at 2,900 disadvantaged young people in 12 barangays in Pasay. The intention is to create an environment in which more young people use sexual and reproductive health services and there is better access to information.


    The project is based on three priorities which are more relevant than ever in the wake of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic:

    Increasing young people’s independence and developing a participative, community approach by establishing a network of peer educators and volunteers (health mediators who can make links with the community) and organising health promotion sessions.
    Strengthening the healthcare system and improving the availability and quality of integrated sexual and reproductive health and HIV services.
    Developing knowledge through a study of sexual and reproductive health practices in the city of Pasay and promoting youth advocacy initiatives.

    In 2021, Médecins du Monde conducted a survey of 400 young people which revealed that just 30% of them felt they could easily access the sexual and reproductive health services they needed. The rules imposed by the authorities in response to the pandemic meant young people aged 18 were not allowed to leave their homes. In addition, most clinics were focused solely on dealing with Covid-19, which limited the range of services available, especially regarding sexual and reproductive health. Médecins du Monde and CFSI therefore developed a home delivery service, supported by 6 peer educators and a network of 30 volunteers recruited for the project.


    At the same time, Médecins du Monde developed and tested a new training course on ‘clarifying values and transforming attitudes’, aimed primarily at parents, teachers and local leaders. The aim of the training is to help them first to understand their own attitudes and values in relation to young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, so that they can provide better support to young people.


    In addition, we worked in partnership with the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) to organise a series of online workshops aimed at young activists who want to learn about how to run an advocacy campaign on access to sexual and reproductive health rights and services.


    In 2021, through our humanitarian mission in the Philippines, we: 

    • educated and supported 856 young people, plus 56 parents and 59 teachers, through a range of health promotion activities on family planning, HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence,
    • recruited and trained 6 peer educators and 30 volunteers through the project,
    • trained 50 young people in empowerment and advocacy techniques with support from our partner, the PLCPD,
    • surveyed 400 young people in July 2021 about sexual and reproductive health


In early 2021, Médecins du Monde continued the work begun in Catanduanes in partnership with the NGO Humanity & Inclusion (HI) in the wake of Typhoon Goni which hit the Philippines in November 2020.

Médecins du Monde provided a three-month emergency response, supporting local healthcare facilities with equipment and medicines and distributing hygiene kits to 700 of the most affected families. This response ensured continuity of care for around 12,000 people in the region.

Since the Philippines is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, we also decided to formalise our partnership with Humanity & Inclusion so that we can be in a position to provide a joint rapid emergency response.

That same month the Super Typhoon Rai caused a wave of destruction in the centre of the country, affecting around 10 million people and destroying or damaging 1.7 million homes and 300 healthcare facilities. Working in collaboration with the United Nations and other NGOs, Médecins du Monde launched an emergency intervention in the Province of Palawan to distribute medical equipment, medicines and hygiene kits.

© Lam Duc Hien

  • 18 000

    Beneficiaries in 2022.

  • 365 198

    Budget in 2022.

18 000

Beneficiaries in 2022.

365 198

Budget in 2022.

  • 1996
    Emergency response following Typhoon Rosing in the three provinces of Quezon, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.
  • 1998
    Primary healthcare for isolated populations in the archipelagos of Camotes, Biri, Capul and San Antonio (Northern Samar).
  • 2012
    Opening of a pilot programme to reduce health and environmental risks in the informal electrical and electronic waste recycling sector.
  • 2013
    Emergency response on the island of Leyte following Typhoon Haiyan.
  • 2014
    Conclusion of emergency response.
  • 2016
    Scaling up of the health and environmental risk reduction programme.