Is there Malaria in Palawan?

September 6, 2010

Is there Malaria in Palawan?

Since I'm traveling with kids, the first thing I researched on is how prevalent malaria is in Palawan. My research showed that Palawan has no malaria in urban areas. If you'd like to see the US Center for Disease Control Map regarding malaria in the Philippines, click here.
We were likewise assured by our guide that there is no malaria in Puerto Princesa city, and only some cases in the forest and small villages. 

There's no vaccination for malaria yet. Your only option is to drink prophylaxis medicine. However, drinking prophylaxis medicine prior to leaving for Palawan is not an option for my kids because of the side effect. My personal assessment is that the side effect far outweighs the advantage of drinking prohylaxis medicine to prevent malaria. We plan to travel primarily in urban areas and away from the forest where cases of malaria is occasionally found.

The key is to to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes as much as you can. So we took the following precautions and added these things to our packing list:

1. insect repellant or OFF lotion in huge quantities

Off! Skintastic Insect Repellent, Tropical Fresh, Family , 6 fl oz (177 ml)Search for insect repellant 
  • We never left our hotel/inn without applying OFF lotion. You can mix the off lotion with the sunblock.
  • We reapply OFF lotion in the afternoon  because the malaria-carrying mosquito mostly bites from dusk till dawn.
  • Always bring with you whenever you go sightseeing OFF lotion together with your sunblock.
  • Reapply OFF lotion especially before going to the Underground River Park, since you enter the forest on the way to the underground river.
  • A room without aircon is not an option. But if you did not get an aircon room, make sure your room is fully screened or bring a mosquito net to put on your bed just to be sure. 
  • this is useful especially in case of power interruption when you can't open your aircon. 
  • In addition to a mosquito net, a mosquito coil can be lighted in your room to give added protection.
Below are more information taken from US Center for Disease Control. 

Areas of the Philippines with Malaria: Present in rural areas <600 m (<1,969 ft) on islands of Luzon, Palawan, and Mindanao. None in urban areas. (more information)
If you will be visiting an area of the Philippines with malaria, you will need to discuss with your doctor the best ways for you to avoid getting sick with malaria. Ways to prevent malaria include the following:
  • Taking a prescription antimalarial drug
  • Using insect repellent and wearing long pants and sleeves to prevent mosquito bites
  • Sleeping in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms or using bednets
All of the following antimalarial drugs are equal options for preventing malaria in the Philippines: Atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine. For detailed information about each of these drugs, see Table 2-23: Drugs used in the prophylaxis of malaria. For information that can help you and your doctor decide which of these drugs would be best for you, please see Choosing a Drug to Prevent Malaria.
Note: Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in the Philippines and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.
To find out more information on malaria throughout the world, you can use the interactive CDC malaria map. You can search or browse countries, cities, and place names for more specific malaria risk information and the recommended prevention medicines for that area.