The New Secretary of Health

Dr. Enrique "Ike" Ona

A new Secretary of Health has been recently appointed by P-NOY, Dr. Enrique “Ike” T. Ona, former director of the renovated and refurbished National Kidney & Transplant Institute in Quezon City, a tertiary specialty PUBLIC hospital known as one of the leading kidney transplant centers in Asia.

Dr. Ona is quite unknown for the common people which probably explains the raising of eye brows of some when he was appointed by the adminsitration. Unlike the popular choice Dr. Jimmy Galvez-Tan (my own favorite, I really gladly thought it was him that P-NOY will choose), who’s really known for his uncanny ability to lead people (doctors, health care workers, and government officials) through his NGO and WHO work; connect with the masses through his various media appearances; and of course his previous achievements as past secretary of health, Dr. Ona’s own achievements have been unknown to most people.

Unfortunately, including me. I didn’t even know that he was one of the choices for the position until the news broke out this afternoon that he was already appointed. Dr. Ike is my brod in the Phi Kappa Mu, and I’ve met him only about twice during my undergrad years, so I didn’t get the chance to really get to know him. I only knew him as the topnotch Transplant Surgeon brod who headed the NKTI and brought it up from the ashes (literally and figuratively!).

That’s all about him that I knew until I saw this write-up from the graduation souvernir programme of UPCM Class 2008. He was their graduation speaker.

I’d like to share this with you so you could also get a glimpse of who Dr. Ike is. Remember that this was NOT written by me (but by Dr. Chay Sanchez of UPCM 2008). Also, it is not my intention to justify his being chosen through this write-up.

The post of the DOH secretary plays a vital role in the transformation that P-Noy wants to happen (or that all Filipinos want to feel, for that matter). The Secretary should be able to lead and implement projects, programs and laws concerning health which, for the past administrations, has not been given much emphasis or support. Who wants to run a country with an unhealthy population? I guess no one. We’re taught in the UPCM that health is a basic human right, not a commodity that only those who can afford avail. The DOH secretary should, at least, be able to uphold this assertion, as we say it in the hospital, WITHOUT FAIL!

I know Dr. Ike did an awesome job at NKTI, transforming it into the best transplant hub in the Philippines and in SEA, but no one can really tell if he can do an equally awesome job in transforming the DOH or the Philippine health care delivery system, or health education, or the national health insurance program.

But here are some points that, in my opinion, can justify why he can do great things in DOH:

  1. Leadership skills-wise, he’s been part of the government system as Director of NKTI for many years, and NKTI is under the system of DOH. He knows the ins and outs of government service. He even transformed the way NKTI procures/manages their funds such that it now becomes a self-sustaining government hospital (wonders when can PGH do this also…)
  2. He graduated from UPCM. ‘Nuff said. Takot na lang niya sa mga alumni kung may gawin siyang kalokohan.
  3. He’s Phi, and definitely a man of integrity, honor and justice.

So with that I offer my unwavering support for the NEW Secretary of Health, Dr. Enrique T. Ona, Φ ’57, UPCM ’62! Please steer the health care system of the Philippines to greater heights!

Dr. Enrique T. Ona
by Dr. Chay Sanchez, UPCM Class 2008

It has been a tradition to ask one accomplished personality in the field of medicine to inspire each year’s graduates as they start their journey. This year, the UP College of Medicine Class 2008 chose Dr. Enrique Ona, undoubtedly one of the Philippines’ best in the field of vascular and organ transplantation surgery, to share his experiences and thoughts about learning, living and loving the life of a physician.

A native of Sagay City, Negros Occidental, Dr. Ona graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1962. After passing the licensure exam for physicians, he decided not to join the clamor for the very limited residency slots in the Department of Surgery of Philippine General hospital, which were then seemingly reserved only for the top graduates and the “anak ng Diyos.”

Instead, he took his residency training in surgery at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, earning himself the position of chief resident and later obtaining fellowship degrees in surgery and experimental surgery in Boston and New York.

Training with other doctors from prestigious medical schools such as harvard, Dr. Ona realized that he was actually at par with them. “Kaya ko rin pala ang mga ginagawa nila,” he humbly thought to himself. It was then that he decided to train further as a Colombo Scholar in Organ transplantation at Cambridge University in England.

Realizing his social responsibility as a UP graduate, Dr. Ona came back to the Philippines to pioneer in what was then lacking in the country – organ transplantation.

Thus began his enviable record as a leader in his profession. He organized medical congresses and symposia, became an active member of international medical organizations and even had time for research. In 1979, he was recognized as the Outstanding Filipino Physician for Medicine.

One of the highlights of his career was his revolutionary work as the executive Director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. Believing that quality training, service and research are all possible if done systematically and with passion, Dr. Ona transformed the NKTI from being a fire-ravaged hospital into a modern, state-of-art health institution in just nine months. He established the most modern hemodialysis center in Southeast Asia and a word-class laboratory for hematology and oncology. Under Dr. Ona’s leadership, NKTI developed strategic planning processes for procuring funds to be used in the institution’s advancement. Indeed, much of what the NKTI is at present can be credited to his genius.

Despite his hectic schedule, Dr. Ona has not forgotten his alma mater. He is president of UPCM Class 1962, who have recently donated to the college a Students Lounge, where students may conduct meetings and practices, or simply, study. He is also a member of the Most Venerable Fraternity of the UP College of Medicine, the Phi Kappa Mu.

Dr. Enrique Ona is the husband of associate professor and hematologist Dr. Norma Ona. They have four children.

*taken from the Souvenir Programme of the 99th Commencement Exercises of the UP College of Medicine, May 18, 2008.

Saw this article from Yahoo news. It has snippets of PNoy justifying his choices for his cabinet members. Here’s what he said about Dr. Ona:

Health: Director of NKTI, Enrique T. Ona.

“In our interview we saw in him the potential to become a complete alter-ego, especially given the fact that health agenda is No. 3 on our platform. And he has been given instructions specifically with regard to expediting universal coverage of PhilHealth, one of our campaign promises,” said Aquino.

No. 3 pala ha. Tignan natin. :-)

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6 thoughts on “The New Secretary of Health

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  4. Really, we are very surprised with his appointment because Pnoy did not make some research regarding Dr. Ona. We the employees havent seen a doctor as greedy as him, this are some of the facts and can be verified with our inutile assigned COA, did you know that Dr. Ona cornered all foreign patients under his care and his professsional fees are not reported to BIR, check with Admitting how many patients did he transplants and all of this paid in cash directly to him, payments are in the million pesos, he’s been with NKTI for so long eventhough he is considered retired based on his age a long time ago because he cant leave his position, his milking cow, check all the construction made at NKTI and you will be surprised his son used a dummy to cornered all expansion made in the hospital, other facts is when a high ranking govt official is confined in the hospital, say for example former Sec. Gonzales he didnt charge anything so in case he would be exposed this people will help him exonerated. He is a millionaire but he is so greedy that he gets all filipino donors be donated to this foreigners under the guise of a foundation where he is a prominent member.We the employees are waiting for his karma but till now he still fool a lot of people because he is so good in politicking better than a politician when he talks. Check his record of professional fees in the cashier versus record of patient admitted under his care and you will see a big difference for not declaring most of the professional fees earned from foreigners. We hope Pnoy will not not succumb to Dr. Ona’s charms in presenting his vision for the government which is just a show,monitor his activities at DOH AND THE PEOPLES HE WILL BRING TO THE AGENCY BECAUSE FOR SURE HE WILL MAKE HIS POSITION TO ENRICH HIM AGAIN AND THATS FOR SURE.

  5. thanks for posting the write-up…. hehe. i randomly searched for my name sa google and I found this! I’ve even forgotten I wrote it. :D But I believe in Dr. Ona. I remember him asking TJ and I for merienda just to get a glimpse of how Class 2008 is :D I also remember how people from NKTI gave him a different brand of respect— I think he was such a force of nature and I believe he can really make a difference :D

  6. Deahrestgutierrez@yahoo.comr Sir,
    Agift of LOve , Charity, through concern and Mercy Gift that god gave to us…May youshared those give w/ all your hearts, Please help those who are really in need ..
    Marami nakasing tao ang nagkakamali sa pera…lam naman ninyo ang dahilan ..ang iba hirap ang iba nasanay nasa luho..ang iba dahil sa Pamilya .ang iba dahil sa mga anak.. ang mga dahilan nila pagkain, o mga kailang nila sa anak pag-aaral .. o kaya ang iba lalo mga nalaban sa gobyerno o ang iba ay naggugulo lang sa nnk naputa sa ipinaglalban nila..pero ang Human trafficking at human organs Mali !! Buti sana kung namaya ng idodonate ,,, pero yung iba pinaatay maibenta lang ang organs.. nag iba naman ibinebebta nila kasi wla silang pera ..katulad ng dugo o ang ibang organs nila …BILANG SECRETARY OF HEALTH : PAANO AT ANO ANG MAITUTULONG MO SA MGA TAONG KATULAD NILA ? PAANO MO MATUTULUNGAN SILA SA KALUSUGAN NILA?
    SA MATAMIS: lahat ng pagkain na pwede pagmulan ng DIABETES , sakit sa bato , sakit sa tiyan , sakit sa RaYUMA, o ATHRITIS, at iba pa.
    sa SIGARILYO AT ALAK : LUNGS , HEART , HEAD , BREATHING paano matuturuan at mapag-iingat mga taong katuad nila .Paano sila mapag-sasabihan. Lalo na mga kabataan .
    MGA ALLERGIES : na hindi natin alam kung saan at kung kanino nanggaling :
    MAARI PO BANG MAGKAROON NG PROYEKTO SA KALUSUGAN sa mga sakit nayan o SEMINARS PARA SA MGA NANINIRAHAN SA BAWAT BARANGAY AYON SA IDAD araw -araw mula sa mga batang may isip 7 pataas sa bawat araw ay magkaroon ngseminars sa mag katulad nila para maipaliwanag sa pangaral ng magulang o sa mga sakit minsan kasi me mga bata at matanda na isip matanda . o isip bata o isip na mas bata pa sa idad nila .O kaya maari itong gawin sa eskuwelahan kung paano matuto ang mga bata ng mag-ingat sa kanilang kalusugan at sa mga -away para mailayo sila sa mga bagay na hindi dapat mangyari sa kanila.AT magkaroon sana ng mga Seminars ang mga magulang kung paaano tuturuan ang sarili nila at tuturan ang anak nila para pag -ingatan ang sarili nila.. SANA PO magkaroon ng mga DOCTORS at NURSES o MGA SURGEON para tignan ang mga maysakit nadi nila nalalaman na sakit napala at kailangn ng ipadoctor o Hospital. (Walang ibang magmamalasakit sa katulad nila kundi yung nakaranas ng mga sakit o yung natulungan ng Diyos na gumaling …at yung nakaranas ng milagro galing saDiyos …at yung mga taong Matulungin sa kapwa at yung mga taong Marunong magmahal sa kapwa at sa sarili nila. Minsan kasi me mga taong nag-aasikaso sa sarili nila at inaalagaan nila ang sarili nila t pinagmamalasakitan ang kalusugan nila pero me bagay na hindi mo akalain na me mga tao o bagay na nagiging dahilan kung bakit sila nagkakasakit.SANA PO SA LAHAT NG LUGAR ..Sa MAKATI din po sana o kung saan mas maraming may sakit …lalo na kabataan …
    INaasahan po namin na sana matulungan ninyo ang lahat ng taongmay sakit nahindi nila nalalaman nasakit napala at mabigayan sila ng kaukulang gamot at matulungan sila sa laaht ng laboratory para gumaling ang sakit nila…. Nakaakawa ang mga batang nag-kakasakit o may sakit nahindi nalalman ng mga magulang nila o hindi aipagamot ang anak nlla dahil ang katuwiran ay ayaw nila , wala silang pera, o nataatkot silang mag-padoctor. Marami pong salamat.

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