Allergic reaction to hair dye forces Ona to take month’s leave

Health Secretary Enrique Ona. FILE PHOTO

Health Secretary Enrique Ona. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Beware of toxic hair dye.

Take it from Health Secretary Enrique Ona, who has gone on a month-long “medical leave” effective Oct. 28 after experiencing severe allergic reactions from the use of damaging hair coloring.


Undersecretary Janette Garin, designated Department of Health (DOH) officer in charge, said in a press briefing on Thursday that Ona had to go on sick leave because prescription medication has been ineffective in controlling his severe reaction to the hair dye, which manifested in his feet, back and chest.

Garin said Ona did not say which brand of hair dye had caused his allergies, which also caused his sugar level to fluctuate.


She said Ona was presently seeking medical treatment abroad while taking time to de-stress from the daily grind as health secretary.

“Getting treatment is not just about laboratory tests and medications, but also about being away from stress in order to be healthy,” she said.

Ona’s leave will end on Nov. 28.

“I am in constant communication with the Secretary on a daily basis,” Garin said.

Garin said Ona remained involved in the department’s operations, particularly in the efforts to prevent the entry of the deadly Ebola virus in the country.

As of Oct. 24, the deadly virus has infected 10,141 people, of whom 4,922 died, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of the cases were recorded in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where a total of 4,912 people had died.

Liberia recorded the most number of cases at 4,665, followed by Sierra Leone with 3,896, and Guinea with 1,553.


Last week, Aquino said the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment were conducting an “inventory” of Filipinos in these countries and had been instructed to “ascertain the risks that they are facing with regard to Ebola.”

The DOH earlier began screening Filipinos arriving in the Philippines from Ebola-hit countries. They are required to seek a medical clearance from their countries of origin and will be monitored for another 21 days after their arrival in the country. (See related story below.)

The DOH earlier said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City was now more prepared to respond to the Ebola threat.

“Having managed previous global public health emergencies, the RITM has become better-equipped with rapid detection technology, laboratory, hospital facilities and trained personnel in responding to the threat of new infectious disease agents,” Ona earlier said in a statement.

Originally posted at 9:10 pm | Thursday, October 30, 2014

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