There is a first aid point in Port Barton. The nearest hospital is in Roxas, (30 km) but a better one is in Puerto Princesa. To call the ambulance call 911. You can get basic medication in local shops.
In case you need medical assistance.
If you need to clean a wound or want to obtain more info you can go to the local first aid facility in Ballesteros St., past the elementary school. There is a qualified nurse there. They also distribute antimallaric pills for free. They are effective in fighting malaria if you take them within 24 from the moment you were infected.
If you require proper medical assistance you will need to go to a hospital. There are two in Roxas (30km from Port Barton). A Baptist Hospital is located just before Roxas and a state run one is in part of Roxas called Barbacan. The state hospital was opened in September 2018.
Whenever you believe you need specialised medical help and the best option is to go to Puerto Princesa. There are is private Adventist hospital (on the national highway) and a public one called Provincial (in Malvar Road).
Regardless of where you are in Palawan, in case of emergency you need to be taken to Puerto Princesa. Only in Puerto Princesa hospitals can you be properly diagnosed and treated. Call 911 to get the ambulance. This countrywide service was introduces in August 2016. If it fails ask someone to go to the barangay office and ask them to summon help. The office is located in the gym (big open-air basketball court in Bonifacio Street corner of Ballestros Street). It may take 2 to 3 hours for the ambulance to come.
Worth to know
Here is a list of things that pose a potential health risk when in the Philippines: sunstroke, sunburn, motorbike accidents, dog’s bites, stonefish sting, dengue, malaria, sandflies’ bites, food indigestion, scratches and small wounds and sexually transmitted diseases. None of these is typical for Port Barton only and any traveller should do thorough research including medical consultation before going on tropical vacation. Here we do not provide any medical advice but only share a few common-sense tips and give information on what is available and where it can be found in case of medical emergency.
Before you leave the home country
- Consult a doctor on tropical diseases and vaccination recommended for the countries you are going to visit. Get necessary vaccination and buy prescribed drugs.
- Buy a few drugs that you might need and that are not available in the Philippines or simply it is better to have them on you (all the drugs in the table are OTC drugs in Poland but in your country they might not be available without prescription).
Drug/agent/substance name or description
|What it can be used for||Comments|
|Nifuroxazide or Loperamide||
It stops diarrhea.
|Stomach problems and diarrhea usually appear in the beginning of your tropical trip. This is due to the new bacteria that you are not used to. For a few first days eat only cooked meals and do not eat fresh fruit or vegetables. Make sure that fish is well cooked or grilled. Papaya smoothie and papaya seeds are a good remedy for upset stomach. You can buy Loperamide in Port Barton.|
It stops or prevents dehydration caused by vomiting or diarrhea. It helps to hydrate the body in case of sunstroke.
|This solution cannot be found in drugstores in Puerto but there are natural sources of electrolytes: fresh coconut water, bananas and sea salt that you will find in every store in Port Barton.|
|Cetirizine||It reduces allergy caused by insect bites. It also stops allergic reaction related to sunburn.|
|It reduces rush and itchiness of the mosquito and sandflies bites.||Not available in the Philippines.|
(Bacitracinum, Neomycinum, Polymyxinum B)
|It prevents bacterial infection in minor scratches and superficial skin wounds||In Port Barton you will find iodine and medical alcohol with no problem. Please remember that hydrogen peroxide solution is good for cleaning superficial wounds but it has no antiseptic effect.|
|Allantoin (in powder)||It helps to heal wounds, burns and sunburns.||Not available in drugstores in Puerto Princesa. There is also no local equivalent. Can be very useful if you need to dry bigger wounds that are painful to apply any soothing ointment.
A natural equivalent would be coconut oil (cleaned, no additives). You can get it in drugstores in Puerto or in spas in Port Barton
3. Do not take with you bandaids, gauze, cotton pads, povidone-iodine, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, paracetamol or ibuprofen. All these you can buy in Puerto Princesa and also in Port Barton
Although there are is no drugstore in Port Barton a few shops sell quite a wide range of drugs including antibiotics (no prescription is needed, sic!)
Both diseases are endemic in Philippines, which means that there is a risk of getting them. There have been quite a few cases of dengue in Port Barton in the past months, including one of the authors of this website (November 2017). In January 2016 the Philippine Department of Health approved a dengue vaccine and the Philippines is one of few countries in which the vaccine is available. The vaccine, however, is only effective if given to minors of 15 years and younger and it’s general effectiveness is said to be 60-80 percent. Dengue test can be done in Puerto Princesa’s Provincial hospital at 1000 Peso.
Malaria poses less risk than dengue. In Palawan the risk is classified as low but still it is highest in the Philippines. Malaria can be suppressed with the anti-malaric meds which are distributed for free by the local health center.
The first line of defence against dengue and malaria is prevention from mosquito bites from the dawn to dusk: apply repellents, wear long sleeve and pants, sleep under a mosquito net, and buy in a local shop mosquito killer and use it as described on a label.
Sandflies (sandflies, nik niks, migets) are tiny but bite mercilessly and their bites are many times more itchy than mosquito bites. There are no sandflies in the main beaches in Port Barton or around. You, however, should avoid mangroves and extreme ends of beaches which often are swampy and create a great habitat for sandflies. Do not go to these places on windless days and at dawns or dusks.
Sandflies like mosquitos inject saliva to make it easier to suck the blood. With their saliva they may inject parasites that are the cause of an ugly and stubborn skin disease called Leishmaniasis. We have seen people with the symptoms of this disease in Port Barton but they could have got it in other parts of southeast Asia as the incidence of this sickness in the Philippines is very low. Nevertheless, sandflies’ bites are extremely unpleasant and they take long to go away. The allergic reaction can be reduced with antihistamine drugs and itching can be soothed with gel containing penciclovir, e.g.: Fenistil. Local inhabitants recommend virgin coconut oil.
Scratches and small wounds
As a precaution you should be vaccinated against tetanus. If the scratch or wound is dirty with sand grains or any other objects you can use hydro peroxide to clean it. This is, however, not enough to disinfect it. For this you need to use 75% alcohol or iodine.
HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
Sex is tabu in the Philippines. Local people do not feel comfortable talking or listening about sex. There is no sex education in the schools and if popular magazines ever talk about sex they are neither available nor read in Port Barton. Unawareness combines with carelessness. Men do not use condoms as they are not comfortable (the ones you can get in Port Barton indeed are not) and they hope that they will be luckier than their friends. All this results in high rate of teenage pregnancy and in constantly increasing number of HIV infections and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Only one shop in Port Barton sells condoms but they are made of very thick material and are not pleasant to use. In Puerto Princesa three condoms will cost you 37 Peso for a local brand or 90 Peso for Durex. It is worth remembering that like with cloths, asian size L and European size L are different.