Vietnam: ‘PM makes Historic Asbestos Ban Announcement’
Vietnam ban asbestos campaign – Vietnam Prime Minister responds with an historic announcement of a deadline to ban asbestos in the construction sector
On 16 January 2018 the Vietnamese Prime Minister announced 2023 as the deadline for stopping the use of asbestos in the construction sector. This was the first time the Prime Minister has made such an announcement and it was made as he addressed the Ministry of Construction. The Prime Minister noted the ‘obstruction’ up to now by the Ministry of Construction in moving forward with a ban. A member of Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network (VNBAN), the ban network supported by Union Aid Abroad APHEDA, was also directly quoted by the Prime Minister in his nationally televised speech.
The VNBAN network of NGO’s and trade unions have worked hard for this win with awareness raising and advocacy activities in recent months. They continue to push for the ban date to be brought forward to 2020.
Another significant win in the campaign to ban asbestos saw the Vietnam Government shift from being one of the countries blocking the listing of chrysotile (white asbestos) on the Rotterdam Convention in 2013 to supporting the listing in 2017.
Asbestos use in Vietnam and pressure from the pro-asbestos lobby
Over 90% of the 60,000 tons per year of raw asbestos imported into Vietnam is used in the construction sector. Latest global estimates of asbestos related disease, based on past consumption, indicates Vietnam is likely to have suffered over 2,000 deaths in 2016 from asbestos exposure.
The pro-asbestos lobby is responding by pumping up the resources and pressure on the Vietnam government to try to delay a ban. Vietnam is one of the world’s top seven importing countries of asbestos fibre. In November 2017, the pro-chrysotile asbestos Roof Sheet Association launched its website in both English and Vietnamese. This is an attempt by the asbestos industry to delay, deceive and confuse the public and policy makers in Vietnam on the deadly health effects of chrysotile asbestos.
Union Aid Abroad is supporting VNBAN partners campaigning for a faster ban to be implemented by 2020 . This would result in a reduction in people being exposed to asbestos and contracting preventable cancers. The campaign promotes evidenced based information including a new website to counter asbestos industry misinformation as well as awareness raising on exposure hazards for consumers and workers and a survey of manufacturers on transition plans to non-asbestos technology.