Volunteering in conservation projects around the world often means living in rural areas with limited access to medical facilities, as well as close contact to animals and the local population. As such, if you intend to volunteer with Marine Conservation Philippines, you should really familiarize yourself with the risks. We’ve tried to compile most concerns on this page, but you are of course welcome to get in touch with us if you have additional questions or concerns.
Is it really safe to volunteer in the Philippines?
Reasonably safe, yes. Bluntly put, there’s a thousand things that can kill you, and no matter how long you live, eventually one of them will. Most of these things can happen in the Philippines too. Getting to one place from another in traffic has risks, accidents happen anywhere in the world, and people fall ill. No-one can issue any guarantees, and in addition diving also has inherent risks. All this said, volunteering with us is a safe as we can reasonably make it. All staff members are skilled first aid providers, (we are even seven first aid instructors who live on base!) we conduct our scientific diving under the strictest safety protocols and our scuba training is second to none. We take great care in running a healthy and hygienic kitchen and the crime rate in our area is much, much lower than in any European city. We have contingency plans for every emergency you can think of, manmade or otherwise, and we conduct various safety and emergency drills every month. Our staff live and work on site, and there’s always someone who can help with big or small problems. Despite all these precautions, neither we not anyone else can guarantee you won’t get hurt or have an accident. We do however think it’s very, very unlikely.
Malaria and dengue fever
There is no malaria where we are located. For many years Zamboanguita has been classed as completely malaria-free, and malaria in general is actually very rare in the whole Visayas region of the Philippines. If you intend to travel to other parts of the Philippines before or after volunteering with us, we recommend you check with current recommendations for that particular area and take any measures you deem appropriate. You may start by getting a rough idea from this malaria-map.
Dengue feveris endemic to Negros Oriental, but rare. There are about a hundred cases reported annually in Zamboanguita. Dengue is very rarely fatal and usually the illness resolves within a few days. Serious complications are uncommon in healthy adults, but make no mistake – Most people describe dengue as an unpleasantly tough flu, that will keep you away from scuba diving for a week or two, so we recommend you wear some mosquito repellant – just in case.
Vaccinations and other health concerns
As a volunteer you’re living in the woods, you wear sandals all the time, you ride boats to dive sites, you plant mangroves, and if you’re not careful, you can scratch yourself on coral when you scuba dive. Basically, there’s ample opportunity to get small cuts and scratches. You should definitely get inoculated against diphteria and tetanus. Most international volunteers have these two shots already.
Depending on your intended lenght of stay, it may be a good idea to also get immunization against hepatitis A (you can get it in a combi-vaccine against hepatitis B) and typhoid. There’s quite some uncertainty regarding Japanese encephalitis, but it’s believed to be endemic on all islands in the Philippines. Some, but not all doctors, recommend you get this vaccination also if you intend to stay for more than six weeks. We suggest you check with the health authorities of your home country, and follow their recommendations.
For budget conscious volunteers it’s possible to get innoculations cheaply in Dumaguete. The clinics may not look quite as you would expect, but the meds come at a fraction of the cost of most European countries.