HomeManilavol. 9 no. 1 (2013)

Medicine and Health Care in Greater Manila During the Japanese Occupation

Arnel E. Joven

Discipline: Philippine History



When the Japanese Imperial Army entered Manila in January 1942, the city was beset with a general health and sanitation crisis. Health and utility services were almost non-existent as Manila and its environs were plagued with uncertainty amidst the destruction and chaos. Much of the badly needed services were carried out by the city’s Health Service Branch, specifically under Dr. Mariano Icasiano. From 1942 to 1943, problems of rampant malnutrition and unsanitary conditions persisted all over the metropolis. These contributed to the uncontrollable spread of diseases, which led to overflowing patient admittance in most public hospitals. Conditions became worse after the November 1943 flood, which further depleted food supplies from the provinces. This paper surveys the suffering of the people of Greater Manila as manifested in their persistent health problems from 1942 to the eve of the liberation period in 1945. Much study has been done on Manila during the liberation. This study will look at the people’s conditions by the end of the war in 1945, using memoirs and accounts, official government documents, news publications, and oral interviews. To understand the narratives, this research employs health-seeking behavior as a conceptual framework while looking into the phenomenology of health and illness.