Friday, October 3, 2008

Occupational Health and a New World

The health practitioner of the future will give no medicine, but will interest the patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. --THOMAS A. EDISON

Malate, Manila – Last September 27-29, 2008, I attended the 8th annual meeting of Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational Accident Victims (ANROAV).

Attended by occupational health experts, labor rights advocates and victims in Asia, North America and France, the annual meeting tackled experiences in occupational health hazards and offered new hope to the expanding advocacy for the advancement of occupational health and safety development as well as to the victims of occupational accident.

Most notable during the 3-day meeting was the attendance of Bhopal tragedy victims, their first time, and the entire participants was presented with an update of their struggles. The Chinese delegation offered hope that a new China will emerge soon.

Papers were presented and updates on current struggles discussed, emphasis was given to the following:

First, the issue on silicosis was discussed with stressing on gem polishing produces lit of silica dust that has been killing thousands of workers in many Asian countries. The session highlighted the struggle of silicosis victims in China and India and the joint strategies they are developing.

The session also highlighted different initiatives and struggles in different Asian countries towards banning asbestos in Asia.

Video presentation of a Nepalese woman about the state of reproductive and sexual rights in her country brought about by decades-old neglect of working women. The video presentation provided a succinct situation of a country so proud of Mt. Everest and its beautiful landscape while undermining the dying women.

The era of globalization is also an era of ever intensifying contradiction between labor and capital. The annual meeting provided a subtle though not comprehensive development of occupational health situation particularly in Asia.

I am glad that experts in the medical and sociological field offered their expertise and contributed to the struggles for the protection and advancement of occupational health – the often neglected and ignored in the medical profession.

I am much gladder that labor rights advocates all over the globe met and discussed, spending endless nights just to ensure a safer and healthier world for our working people. Such advocacy offered new hope that a new world, a new and safer world is possible.

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