Announcement: Asian Asbestos Conference 2009
Throughout most of the world, people injured by exposure to asbestos remain unacknowledged and uncompensated. In much of the industrializing world, asbestos use is increasing, despite a scientific consensus that exposure to all types of asbestos can cause debilitating and fatal diseases. According to the latest data, 55% of all global consumption takes place in Asian countries;1 in these markets, campaigns promulgated by vested interests spread disinformation and confusion; consumers, civil servants and employers are reliably informed that living, using or working with asbestos is perfectly safe. To counter government neglect and industry propaganda, a cohesive effort by various sectors representing civil society is urgently needed; strengthening the Asian ban asbestos grass-roots movement is key to this process.
From April 25-28, 2009, a series of events is being held in Hong Kong to provide a public forum in which the current asbestos situation in Asia can be discussed. In plenary sessions and workshops on April 26 & 27, experts from four continents, representatives from many Asian countries and conference delegates will discuss strategies for facilitating a regional ban on asbestos and for supporting those individuals and communities which have been damaged by asbestos.2 The conference, which is being organized by a consortium of groups representing victims and labor,3 is a highlight of the 2009 asbestos calendar. Speaking on behalf of one of the conference organizers, Ms. Kazan-Allen of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat says:
Since the 'Kubota Shock'4 occurred in Japan, thousands of cases of asbestos-related disease have been diagnosed amongst former asbestos workers, railway workers, schoolteachers, insulators and local residents. In Korea, the incidence of asbestos-related disease is also on the rise. There is no question that India, Thailand, the Philippines and other Asian countries will also experience increasing mortality from the avoidable diseases caused by asbestos.
I am delighted to be working with colleagues on the organization of The Asian Asbestos Conference 2009 which will, I am sure, make a valuable contribution to raising the profile of the debate on asbestos use in Asia.
February 15, 2009
1 According to the latest data from the United States Geological Survey, in 2006 Asian asbestos consumption was 1,102,572 tonnes; worldwide consumption was 2,023,447 tonnes.
2 For more information see: http://www.anroav.org/aac
3 The conference organizers are: the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (Hong Kong), the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims (Hong Kong), Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and the Building and Woodworkers International.
4 'Kubota shock' is the term commonly used in Japan to refer to the country's awakening to an epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. For more information on this see: Killing the Future Asbestos Use in Asia. p. 18-19.