On January 16, 2013, I had the privilege of making a presentation on asbestos to a group of medical doctors and interns at the University of Tehran Medical Sciences centre.
The medical community in Iran is well aware of the health hazards posed by asbestos and have made significant progress in stopping its use. They are hopeful that asbestos will, at some point soon, be banned.
Import of asbestos by Iran has plummeted over the past decade. Figures from Iran’s customs authorities show that only 9,000 metric tons of asbestos were imported in 2011 – a 90% drop from the 2003 figure of 83,000 metric tons (see graph).
The group of medical doctors and interns were interested to hear of the worldwide efforts to ban asbestos and, in particular, to learn how asbestos mining and export by Canada has finally stopped. They were concerned as to what should be strategic priorities in order to protect their population from suffering further harm from asbestos. Of course, the fundamental principle of health care is to prevent harm. Until such time as Iran bans asbestos, asbestos-containing products will continue to be imported, just as they are into Canada and the US and other countries that have not banned asbestos, thus placing the population at greater risk of harm.
Over half of the medical doctors and interns were women. They were particularly concerned to hear that asbestos has even been included in children’s paint kits, exported by China.
I also had the privilege of visiting the Centre for Research on Occupational Disease in Tehran and meeting the doctors and researchers who work there.
They were proud to show me the modern equipment they use to study such problems as lung diseases and sleep disorders, as well as the data they are collecting through their research.
The doctors I met at the Centre for Research on Occupational Disease and those at the University of Tehran Medical Sciences centre deserve our congratulations for their dedication and good work to prevent occupational diseases, care for those who have been harmed and to protect the population from asbestos harm by ending use of asbestos.
Kathleen Ruff, founder, RightOnCanada.ca