Asia: Advocates push for a total ban of asbestos trade

The Asia Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) held a three-day online conference last 28-30 September which was attended by different ban asbestos and victim networks from India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Bangladesh. Representatives from global health and safety organisations and trade union representatives were also present.

The online event shared information and research amongst stakeholders on efforts to eradicate asbestos-related diseases. The participants also strategised on ways to push for more national asbestos bans in their respective countries and identified possible barriers to their campaign efforts. 

The conference devoted a special session on victims of asbestos-related diseases. The victims shared their stories and experiences and pointed to corporate greed as the main driving force in the continued use and manufacture of asbestos materials. 

The COVID-19 pandemic was also discussed. The participants took turns in stating how the global health crisis has exposed and even exacerbated the poor situation of many of asbestos victims, particularly their continuing lack of access to health care, both from governments and corporations.  

The event ended with the participants passing a joint declaration reiterating its call to strengthen global efforts for an asbestos-free world. They said that asbestos, which is still being consumed in many countries, is a time bomb that can explode at any moment with deadly consequences.