Vietnam Eliminating Asbestos Disease Campaign Update
A big campaign year amid COVID challenges
In recent months Vietnam has been hit severely by the COVID-19 Delta strain. For the last 2 months, over 16 million people in major cities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have been in lockdown as cases have risen to between 10,000 and 15,000 per day. Understandably this has caused some delays in APHEDA’s program activities, but — like so many in Australia and globally — our Vietnam partners and office team have adapted to working online.
Before this recent outbreak of COVID-19 our partners in Vietnam, VOSHA (Vietnam OSH Association) and IRECO (Institute for Resources, Environment and Community Development), had been very busy in engaging with government, ethnic minorities, and trade unions on asbestos awareness and advocacy as well as on social media. This activity included 4 workshops and trainings for ethnic minorities and policy makers in several provinces, live stream talk shows, 3 journal publications, and the publishing of a new booklet on good practice in safe removal of asbestos-containing materials.
All the while, the pro-asbestos lobby has continued its campaign to deny the evidence, misinform the public, and delay any regulation that will upset its deadly trade.
Focus on consumer awareness in coming years
A key development in recent months has been the negotiation and commencement of a new partnership with MISEREOR (the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation) in Germany, who have agreed to co-support the program in Vietnam. The added resources through this partnership mean we will be able to expand the focus on consumer awareness, particularly in ethnic minority communities in mountainous areas that are the last big market for asbestos roof sheets in Vietnam.
We are also very encouraged by a 50% drop in asbestos fibre imports in the last 2 years, partly due to our awareness program and partly to growing supply of alternative products. This information is not from us – but comes from the asbestos industry in Vietnam!
The Asbestos. Not Here. Not Anywhere project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), Australian trade unions, and members of Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA.
The Global Justice Organisation of the Australian Union Movement
The work of Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA relies on the efforts of thousands of Australian unionists and internationalists who raise funds, volunteer, and take action to build solidarity across borders.