A seminar discussing how to prevent asbestos-related diseases in Vietnam took place in Hanoi on June 20.

The event was co-organised by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health (MoH)’s Environment Management Department and the Australia Council of Trade Unions.

Speaking at the event, MoH Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said that asbestos is a harmful fibrous mineral which can cause lung cancer and other diseases such as asbestos pneumoconioses, pleurisy and carcinoma. It has been named in the list of substances that need to be strictly controlled in labour safety and hygiene.

Asbestos has been used in Vietnam since 1960 and is controlled under the regulations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) International Convention 162 on the use of asbestos for workers . However, Vietnam is facing difficulties in controlling the harmful effects of the substance on human health and the environment.

Therefore, the seminar is held to update information on the control of asbestos-related diseases in the world and discuss the building of control systems in Vietnamese hospitals, Long said.

According to Truong Le Van Ngoc, a representative from the ministry, about 125 million people over the world are exposed to asbestos in their work place, of whom over 107,000 people die of lung cancer, carcinoma and asbestos pneumoconioses.

Asbestos is used widely in producing cement roofs, pipes, boilers and heat and electrical insulating materials. About 3,000 industrial and civil products contain asbestos, which enters the human body through respiratory and digestive systems.

Dr. Luong Mai An from the Environment Management Department said that although asbestos-related diseases are hard to be treated, they can be prevented. The diseases usually develop after 20-30 years since the first contact with the chemical.-VNA