Health Emergency: Ban Asbestos In Pakistan

During the entire rage against the giant Johnson & Johnson after Reuters bombshell report ‘How Johnson & Johnson Hid Its Baby Powder Asbestos Problem, the world has seen how even the minor amount of asbestos in a product can be directly linked with causing cancer. The issue has been under discussion for a while, but Pakistan has still maintained its blind eye to the grave issue.

The person is initially exposed to carcinogen through inhalation, made of tiny fibres. Once asbestos gets into the lungs, it attaches itself to the lining and attacks the immune system. This causes scar tissues, known as Asbestosis, leading to inflammation of the lungs.

Repetitive exposure to asbestos can be a leading cause of cancer like Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma claims the life of 3000 lives of Americans every year, as revealed by the American Cancer Society.

”If you look at the data, most cases of lung cancer caused by asbestos occur 20 years after exposure to it” – Akhtar, a member of the American Cancer Society, said.

However, while the entire world has started to talk about it Pakistan still lacks even the basic data on the issue. Considering the public health disaster caused by the substance, 55 countries have banned any type of use of asbestos. Taking statistics from United States Geological Survey, Pakistan has imported more than 2800 metric tons of asbestos fibres in 2015. During the years 2009 and 2012, over 35,000 tons were used. This fibre is eventually used in homes of people, leading to an epidemic of diseases caused by asbestos. Among them, the leading is cancer which has engulfed Pakistan. But, to tackle the issue the step 1 is to gauge the magnitude of the problem while in Pakistan, we are even failing to do that.

There are no reliable statistics to tell the exact number of workers suffering from asbestos-related diseases, there is an absence of trained doctors, systematic monitoring and reporting of diseases of this nature. In these circumstances, the government of Pakistan seriously needs to consider the health implications of asbestos, as it is clearly a public health emergency.

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