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looking after people with rabies

Staff at San Lazaro Hospital work hard to help patients on the Starfish Program. Read the inspirational story behind the name...


One day a man took a walk along a beach only to see a boy pick up a starfish and throw it into the ocean. He watched the boy pick up another starfish and thow it into the water, then another, and another.

‘What are you doing?’ he finally asked.

‘If I don’t throw the starfish back into the sea, they’ll die in the sun,’ the boy replied.

‘But this beach stretches for miles,’ said the man. ‘You can’t possibly make a difference!’

The boy picked up yet another starfish and threw it into the water. He turned to the man and smiled. ‘It made a difference to that one.’

The Starfish Program* at San Lazaro Hospital (SLH) in Manila got its name from this story. Just like the man who thought saving one starfish was a waste of time, not everyone thinks it's worth spending time and money to help people with rabies, because once the signs show, it means the person will die anyway.

A team of nurses and doctors from Australia and New Zealand thought differently - they knew something had to be done to help the many people suffering from rabies, so they began working with doctors at SLH to treat patients so the are able to spend their last days feeling much more calm and comfortable.

We want to help the Starfish team give the special Starfish treatment wherever there are rabies victims. If you have ideas about how you could be involved, please contact us:

ÜHealth Professionals: Click here for more information about the Starfish program

*The Starfish Palliative Care Program of the San Lazaro Hospital was set up in 2000. Its mission is to provide care to dying patients and their relatives. Its vision is 'Dignity of life until death.' Please find further information at

'The Starfish Story' is adapted from a story told in The Star Thrower