The Philippines is an archipelago composed of 7,641 islands located in the South China Sea. If all the islands were put together, the land area would be about the size of Arizona. The Philippines is a mountainous country covered in tropical rainforests. Only about 20% of the land is arable. It’s location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close proximity to the equator make the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons. It has a tropical maritime climate, with temperatures generally ranging between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Philippines has a diverse population of over 104 million people. Multiple ethnicities and both Eastern and Western cultures can be found throughout the islands. There is a vibrant Asian culture stemming from a Malay heritage, along with several other Asian ethnic groups. Western influences also abound after being part of the Spanish Empire for over 300 years (1521-1898) followed by an interim rule by the United States (1901-1946). Filipino and English are the official languages of the Philippines, along with 8 major dialects and 182 individual languages. Christianity is the dominant faith, with 83% of the population being Catholic and Islam is the second largest religion, at 5%.
The Philippines is a newly industrialized country and is currently one of Asia’s fastest growing economies. In 2017, Gross Domestic Product per capita was about $7,700 and the unemployment rate was 5.6%. This rapidly growing economy is faced with major income gaps and growth disparities between the different regions and socioeconomic classes resulting in the highest rate of economic and social inequality in Southeast Asia. 21.6% of the population lives under the poverty line. 12% live in extreme poverty, which is defined by the inability to secure 3 meals a day. This equates to over 22 million people living in poverty and 12 million individuals who cannot feed themselves. 18% of the population lives without electricity and basic amenities. This results in a generational poverty that is incredibly difficult to overcome. The dramatic and growing disparity between the richest and poorest citizens has major implications when it comes to land distribution, educational and vocational opportunities, and basic welfare programs.
The Philippines has a K-12 structure for their public schools. While striving to make improvements and bring their school systems in line with international standards, the public school system has numerous obstacles to overcome. The population faces an overwhelming shortage of schools, classrooms, teachers, materials, and access to clean water and proper sanitation. Data collected in 2015 shows that only 60% of students that started elementary school will graduate from high school. The literacy rate is 93.6%.
The Philippines has established universal health care but the implementation of this has varied greatly among the different socioeconomic and geographic groups. The poor of the country have to rely on public sector care, where the quantity of medical facilities and doctors are inadequate to meet the needs of those requiring care, and the quality of services provided is often substandard. Many rural areas do not have medical services in the vicinity and access to care is quite difficult due to the barrier of transportation between islands. The high copayments of the insurance often make receiving care or purchasing pharmaceuticals prohibitive for poor families in need. As a result, a child born to a poor family in the Philippines is three times less likely to reach his or her fifth birthday compared to a child born to a family living above the poverty line.
HEMOPHILIA IN THE PHILIPPINES
According to the World Hemophilia Federation (WHF) there are an estimated 10,000 Filipinos affected with hemophilia, and 1 million with von Willebrand and other clotting factor deficiencies. Just over 1,200 have been diagnosed due to lack of awareness and poor health care services. 75% of sufferers receive inadequate to no treatment at all. For many poor families, they are unable to afford the high cost of treatment. Many are left to try to manage bleeds without medication, often leading to crippling joint disease and lower life expectancy. Children miss countless days of school due to bleeds, negatively impacting their hopes of academic success and increasing their chances of dropping out.
Save One Life works in partnership with seven hemophilia chapters in the Philippines to bring financial support, education, and resources to the hemophilia community. Currently, beneficiaries are being sponsored through chapters in Cebu, Dumaguete, Manila, Pasay City, Quezon City, and Cagayan de Oro and Hazur on the island of Mindanao. Additionally, Save One Life has also granted academic scholarships and micro-enterprise grants to persons with hemophilia or their parents. Save One Life is working with our program partners in the Philippines to improve the quality of life of people suffering the double burden of a bleeding disorder and poverty.