Social Media and Medical Literacy in the Philippines

Rey Palmares
December 4, 2019

How has social media affected medical literacy in the Philippines? Filipinos are the world’s top users of social media and this has been the case for the past four years. Despite being one of the more tech savvy nations (as far as social media is concerned), Filipinos are vulnerable to misinformation. This is particularly true in medical literacy.

Anti-vaccination is no stranger to the Philippines. By 2017, anti-vaccination had already become mainstream, primarily due to the highly politicized and media-sensationalized fearmongering of a dengue vaccine. As a result, the Philippines faced its worst dengue outbreak in history with tens of thousands of cases all over the country.

As early as February of 2019, measles (among others) have become an epidemic thanks in part to social media. Articles promoting anti-vaccination regularly circulate in Filipino Facebook groups. Media reports measles cases have increased by 547% or 5,000 confirmed cases in 2018. This belies government efforts to eliminate the disease in 2010.

Diseases such as polio and diphtheria are also making comebacks.

This ‘vaccine hesitancy’ aggravates the already dreary situation of many Filipino communities in far-flung areas which do not have access to basic healthcare. Healthcare workers are finding it increasingly difficult to administer vaccinations due to widespread misinformation on social media, going so far as to be labeled as “child killers”.

As medical misinformation continues to flourish all over the world, some countries are working on passing legislation to curb the situation. There is yet to be a similar action in the Philippines at a national level although governmental agencies and NGOs have taken initiatives to launch information drives and advocacy campaigns.


Writing should be one part informative and one part entertaining. It's what differentiates a generic piece of text from a well-written article. Rey Palmares dedicates much of his time to fine-tune that craft, juggling the joys and frustrations of writing with those of his law school life outside of the office. He's making it work so far.