Ban Asbestos Mobilization in Thailand
Despite the Thai Government's 2011 pledge to ban asbestos, the requisite legislation to implement this decision has not yet been passed (see: Progress on Thailand Asbestos Ban).
A six month moratorium requested by the Ministry of Industry to investigate the repercussions of ending asbestos use has come and gone without any perceivable progress being made. In this stalemate, Thailand remains the world's fifth largest asbestos user with a current annual consumption of 79,250 tonnes of chrysotile (white) asbestos.
On February 17, 2012, a one-day meeting was held in Bangkok under the banner of the National Programme for the Elimination of Asbestos Diseases (NPEAD) which brought together a hundred representatives of academia, trade unions, consumer and civil society groups to call for an end to asbestos use.
Opening session of the NPEAD conference.
The speakers at the NPEAD conference included representatives of international bodies such as the International Labor Organization, the Building and Woodworkers and the Asian Ban Asbestos Network as well as Thai experts. Amongst those who contributed to the discussion were: Dr. Mongkol Na Songkla, the former Thai Minister of Public Health, Dr. Tipicha Phosayanon, from the National Health Commission, Anun Muangmoonchai, of the National Economic and Social Advisory Council, and Chuensuke Methakullawat, from the Consumer Protection Board. The range of subjects examined during the day reflected the various facets of the asbestos challenge faced by Thailand such as the diagnosis and treatment of asbestos-related diseases, the occupational and public health risk posed by asbestos use, the current status of national asbestos use, the conversion to non-asbestos technology and the role of grassroots groups in the campaign to tackle the country's asbestos legacy.
The activities on February 17 culminated with the adoption of a Declaration to Make Thailand Asbestos-Free endorsed by groups representing a wide spectrum of Thai civil society: the Health Consumer Protection Program, the Foundation for Consumers, the Federation of Consumer Organizations, the Federation of Occupational Health, Safety and Environment at Work, the Council of Work and Environment Related Patient's Network and the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee. The one-page text of the declaration stated:
Human beings have the right to work and to live in a healthy environment. The tragic repercussions of the widespread epidemic of asbestos-related disease must be prevented as a fundamental human right
The signatories to this declaration, which called for a national ban on asbestos by mid-May 2012, agreed to establish the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (T-BAN) in order to progress their efforts to make Thailand asbestos-free.
February 29, 2012