Dr. Anthony “Tony” C. Leachon: Preventive Health, Sin Tax Bill Advocate, and Medical Practitioner by Heart

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MJ Gonzales│ ExecutiveChronicles.com |

It may sound like a cliché, but still the basic of healthier body starts with the food that we intake. Selecting what is good and bad food will simply help us live longer and lovelier in the world. Yes, this idea is hard as climbing the summit of a high mountain.  Dr. Anthony “Tony” C. Leachon knows this but still the award-winning advocate of H.E.R.O. and the Sin Tax Bill and current president of Philippine College of Physicians Foundation and the President of the UST (University of Sto. Tomas) Medical Alumni Association 2015-2016 is unstoppable in guiding his fellow Filipinos to achieve a bouncier lifestyle.

Leachon, himself, is quite achiever and reputable in his field. He has beyond impressive credentials that don’t only make him believable, but also a certified expert in what he’s talking about.  

In 1985, the proud Mindoreno attained his Doctor of Medicine (M.D. Degree) from the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in 1985 and then in June 1986 he became one of the PRC medical board topnotchers.

For years, Doc Tony (as he’s fondly called) has served as the premier internist and cardiologist at the Manila Doctors Hospital. Apart from this, he also became the Director of Information, Publications, and Public Affairs of the University of the Philippines in Manila from June 2012 to October 2014, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (2014), and as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Thailand (2015) and Malaysia (2014).

What’s truly commendable about this doctor-in-action is his accomplishments manifest that he’s an outstanding man and his tenets are good for all men.  Few of his remarkable achievements include being the Distinguished Fellow of the Philippine College of Physicians in 2006,  Outstanding Filipino Awardee in Medicine (TOFIL) in 2010 by the Phil Jaycees Senate, receiver of Manila Doctors Hospital Exemplar Award in January 2015 for his  relentless passion to the institution,  Ulirang Ama Awardee for Medicine for 2015, Most Outstanding Alumnus in Community Service by the UST MAAA in America on July 4 , 2015, and he also garnered the RAPPLER Civic Mover Award for 2015 last September 26.

In his interview by Executive Chronicles and Vigor Buddy, he shared that he really started his career as healer. However, due to financial difficulties, he went to the corporate world and served different medical institutions after he graduated from UST and cardiology in UP-PGH (University of the Philippines- Philippine General Hospital).

“I didn’t realize that I will go to the corporate world but my eldest son Din was [delivered] premature so I needed a job really fast and then you are starting up pa sa practice,” Dr. Leachon shared.

“I was really working hard holding clinics at different hospitals at that time but the biggest break was when I was hired as Unilever Medical Director; so I doubling here, sa PGH and then sa corporate world. “

Dr. Anthony Leachon (2)
Dr. Anthony Leachon, holding fort at his clinic at the Manila Doctors Hospital.

Dr. Leachon added that he was also part of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for ten years handling researches and launching renowned medicines. He enjoyed working in corporate world for several good years, but the death of his mother, who succumbed to breast cancer in 2004 that led him to do advocacy works.

“The question at that time was, how can your mom die when she’s actually being attended by a physician,” the One of the Outstanding Filipino Physicians (TOFP) in 2008 by DOH and Phil Jaycees said.

So I thought dapat empowered ang mga Filipinos regarding their health so I thought of inserting that into the curriculum. Through the help of Philippine College of Physicians and other health advocates I was able to write an executive order (595 – Health Education Reform Order or H.E.R.O.) signed by Former President Gloria Macapagal –Arroyo in 2007.

Another turning point in his life came in 2010 when his younger sister Marita died because of Hepatitis C (liver cirrhosis) due to blood transfusion that happened 20 years earlier before she was diagnosed.   Dr. Leachon admitted that he was so down at that point that he quit the corporate world. Then a different calling knocked on his door when then Health Secretary Enrique Ona called him to work on a DOH project. That project was related to non-communicable diseases such as stroke, heart attack, cancers, diabetes, and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

Ang mind ko noon I was so busy working for other people, which is not bad, siguro kung at age 50 at that time I could concentrate on so many things. But I tend to forget what really matters which are your family, your career, and your patients so I actually quit from Pfizer.

Working on the project with Sec. Ona, Doc Tony suggested that an astute way to bust these health problems is to impose higher taxes through a bill for tobacco.  The doctor shared that the idea came to light because 5 out 10 killer diseases in the Philippines are related to smoking.  Even when the administration changed from Pres. Arroyo to President Benigno A. Aquino, Leachon’s fight continued and by December 2012 the latter signed his proposal for the Sin Tax Law for tobacco and alcohol.

The said law is now indeed a win-win solution as marginalized segment of society is pushed away from smoking or drinking alcohol and at the same time, the government reaps additional revenues. In fact, Leachon said the law will let DOH earn 500 billion pesos for the next ten years.  To date, the straight-A student of life and the medical practitioner by-heart has launched another revolutionary concept that will repel an unhealthy diet by having mandatory calorie counter and food labeling.

“The thing that is most important for me is teaching. The second nature of a doctor, aside from healing is actually teaching,” the experienced physician explained.

Doctors are heroes actually because they’re able to save lives. I don’t think there’s any profession that has so much blessing from the Lord that you can be able to earn as well as save a lot of people or help a lot of patients. But the biggest thing that really ever happened to me was to become a preventive health advocate. I didn’t realize that I have that particular talent of advocating and influencing people.

Doc Tony was recently appointed as a Philhealth Independent Director, representing the Monetary Board.

For those asking what the internal medicine-cardiology recommendation to achieve healthy lifestyle here’s his check list:

  • Stop smoking. This is the single most important factor in improving the quality of your health.
  • Avoid high fat diet
  • Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.
  • Maintain ideal body weight
  • Stop alcohol drinking
  • Reduce stress by relaxation, exercise, meditation, and talking to your family or friends about your problems, etc.
  • Take medications regularly
  • Regular visits to the doctor
  • Sleep for at least 8 hours a day
  • Be happy 😉