During the period of the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands (1901-1935), the Governor General (originally called Civil Governor)1
was the chief executive of the islands.2
Francis Burton Harrison was the Governor General in 1917,3
and the directors of the different administrative bureaus of the government, including the Bureau of Health (BOH), reported to him. In the same year, the Director of Health was Dr JD Long, and his Assistant Director was Dr Vicente de Jesus.4
At that time, the Bureau of Health was divided into different had administrative divisions, one of which was the Division of Mindanao and Sulu,5
headed by the Chief-of-Division Dr Jacobo Fajardo.
The geographical scope of the BOH Division of Mindanao and Sulu was comprised of the Christian provinces of Misamis and Surigao, as well as the “seven special provinces inhabited by Mohammedan and pagan populations”4
under the Department of Mindanao and Sulu.6
One of these non-Christian provinces was Davao Province, or the present-day Davao Region composed of Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao Occidental, and Compostela Valley. Within the division, District Health Officers (in charge of provincial health concerns) and Heads of Dispensaries reported to the Chief-of-Division.5
The most common recorded diseases in Davao Province during 1917 were malaria (2,093 cases), skin diseases (528 cases), infected wounds (412 cases), and intestinal parasites (282 cases). Other diseases reported during the year included dysentery (178 cases), typhoid fever (55 cases), and gonococcal infection (34 cases). The first case of smallpox in Davao Province was diagnosed in 1917 in a girl who came from Cebu.4
Many of the foregoing diseases were diagnosed, treated, and reported by the different health care facilities within Davao Province. Dispensaries provided outpatient medical care and public education about diseases and their prevention.7
In 1917, a total of 20 dispensaries4
were operating in 11 areas in the province, namely—Caraga, Cateel, Saug, Manay, Bunawan, Guianga, La Union, Madaum, Moncayo, Samal, and Malita.8
During the same year, the sickward in Mati was the only government facility in the province that treated patients needing emergency care and that accommodated patients who were about to be transferred to a hospital.9
A private missionary hospital run by American medical staff started operating in Davao since 1908.10
As the only hospital in the province at that time, the facility did well in addressing the medical needs of locals and the Japanese settlers in the province. By 1917, however, the hospital staff could hardly keep up with the growing number of patients. Only seriously ill patients could be admitted, and hospital staff had to turn away many patients for lack of beds.11
There was no operational government-owned hospital in Davao at the start of 1917,4 11
but by the end of the year, one of the many acts that eventually instituted a public hospital in the province was passed by the Philippine Legislature.12
I would like to thank Dr Alvin S Concha for guiding me in the completion of this article, and Mr Clarence Xlasi D Ladrero for creating the infographic.
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1. An act to amend an Act approved July first, nineteen hundred and two, entitled: ”An Act temporarily to provide for the administration of the affairs of civil government in the Philippine islands, and for other purposes,” and to amend an Act approved March second, nineteen hundred and three, entitled ”An Act to establish a standard of value and to provide for a coinage system in the Philippine Islands,” and to provide for the more efficient administration of civil government in the Philippine Islands, and for other purposes, Pub. No. 43, 58th Cong. 3rd Sess. Section 8 (4 February 1905).
2. The Philippine Organic Act of 1902: an act temporarily to provide for the administration of the affairs of civil government in the Philippine Islands, and for other purposes, 57th Cong. of the United States of America, 1st Sess. (1902).
3. Harrison FB. Report of the Governor General of the Philippine Islands to the secretary of war. Washington: Office of the Governor General. 1917.
4. Fajardo J. Report of the division of Mindanao and Sulu. In: Long JD. Report of the Philippine Health Service. Manila: Philippine Health Service. 1917.
5. Long JD. Report of the Philippine Health Service. Manila: Philippine Health Service. 1918.
6. Philippine Islands. An act providing a temporary form of government for the territory known as the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, making applicable thereto, with certain exceptions, the provisions of general laws now in force in the Philippine Islands, and for other purposes, Act No. 2408, Section 2 (1914).
7. Long JD. Report of the Philippine Health Service. Manila: Philippine Health Service. 1915.
8. Philippine Islands. An act appropriating funds for current expenses of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu for the fiscal year ending December thirty-first, nineteen hundred and seventeen, and for other purposes, Act No. 2673 (29 December 1916).
9. Long JD. Report of the Philippine Health Service. Manila: Philippine Health Service. 1916.
10. Mission to the Philippines. The Missionary Herald. 1908 March;104(3):149.
11. Foreign department: The Philippines. The Missionary Herald. 1917 December;113(12):569-570.
12. Philippine Islands. An act appropriating funds for the necessary expenses of the Government of the Philippine Islands during the fiscal year ending December thirty-first, nineteen hundred and eighteen, and for other purposes, Act No. 2727 (20 December 1917).
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