Health Risks of Selected Mass Gatherings in the Philippines in 2015 and Implications for Public Health Preparedness

  • Ronald P. Law
Keywords: disasters, disaster medicine, DRRM (disaster risk reduction and management), health resilience, mass gatherings, public health, preparedness


Background. Mass gatherings (MG) are events that draw together a large number of people in one or several occasions happening in single or multiple places for a definite period of time. These can lead to different public health risks through exposure to infectious diseases, trauma, and environmental factors. The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) in 2015 participated in special planned events that constituted mass gatherings namely the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, the Black Nazarene procession, and the Papal Visit.

Objective. The study aimed to describe the different health risks arising from the three (3) identified mass gathering events in the Philippines in 2015 and relate them to public health preparedness.

Methods. This was a descriptive study of the health risks arising from the MG events. Sources of data were reports submitted by deployed medical teams to the Operations Center (Opcen) that closely monitored the MG.

Results. The study found infectious causes, trauma, temperature-related conditions, and noncommunicable diseases to be the important categories of health risks in the specified mass gatherings. These validated the common health risk categories observed in previously well-studied mass gatherings.

Conclusion. The study highlighted important health risks and factors for consideration in public health preparedness for mass gatherings in terms of appropriate and effective public health strategies that should be established to minimize health risks and reduce health system impacts of mass gatherings.