Participants visit a Cancer Hospital in Laos as part of training program.

Enhancing the ability to diagnose asbestos-related diseases is crucial for workers. Symptoms can take years to appear, and these diseases often go unrecognized as occupational hazards. In Australia, we are aware of the suffering many workers have endured, which is why we’ve joined forces with our brothers and sisters in Laos and Vietnam to improve diagnostic capacity. 

We collaborated with the Asbestos and Dust Disease Research Institute (ADDRI) and the Asbestos and Silica Safety and Eradication Agency (ASSEA) to provide an intensive three-day training for oncologists, radiologists, and pathologists in Laos and Vietnam. 

Volunteer Australian specialists in asbestos disease diagnosis, care, and compensation spent 10 days in these countries, delivering training and sharing their expertise with local counterparts. They discussed challenges and solutions related to diagnosis and compensation issues. 

Prof Catherine Jones, Radiology Network Sydney University during session on rediology 

All participants in Vietnam training with Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski and the Embassy team. 


Many of the trainees reported that they were previously unaware of the significant role asbestos exposure plays in various cancers and how to diagnose them effectively. 

Current estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Study suggest there are likely 1,200 deaths each year in Vietnam and Laos due to past asbestos exposure. Both countries continue to import asbestos and manufacture asbestos roofing sheets. 

The training was delivered by our partner organisations, the Ministry of Health in Laos and the National Institute of Environmental and Occupational Health in Vietnam, with support from our Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA offices in both countries. 

Participants evaluated the training as extremely important and useful for helping them diagnose these diseases in the future. A key component of the training will be ongoing follow-up by Australian specialists through ADDRI, including online training and support for specific cases. 

The APHEDA/ADDRI/ASSEA collaboration on diagnosis was first trialed in Indonesia in 2023, and we are excited to expand this important work to Laos and Vietnam. 

The initiative was funded by the Asbestos and Silica Safety and Eradication Agency (ASSEA). 

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