The fourth Global Asbestos Awareness Week (GAAW) began on 1st April 2014. The seven day gathering of major organisations, medical professionals and leading research experts is dedicated to “global advocacy, education, and community building”, and aims once again to raise asbestos awareness to the continuing legacy of mesothelioma and asbestosis disease suffered by thousands of men and women around the world today.

Not only are there successive generations of innocent victims who first inhaled the deadly fibre dust in countless manufacturing and industrial workplaces from the 1940s through to the 1980s but new generations of victims exist today in developing industrial nations, such as India where asbestos is still being used.

By the 1980s, an estimated 5 million metric tonnes of asbestos was being used by around 25 countries each year, and 85 countries were being supplied with the raw mined mineral for industrial scale manufacture of asbestos products. Following countries like the UK, who first banned the use of the fibres in insulation materials in 1985, there are now 55 countries around the world, including most members of the European Union, which prohibit its import and use.

Committed to defeating asbestosis and mesothelioma

GAAW was created and developed by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation (ADAO), which was founded on 1st April 2004 by two mesothlioma victims and their families. “National Asbestos Awareness Day” was launched exactly to the day one year later, and Global Asbestos Awareness Week established in 2011.

Sharing in common the commitment of many organisations around the world, such as Mesothelioma UK, to ultimately, defeating asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer, their core founding principles are built upon “Education, Advocacy and Community.”

Key goals include:

  • Educating citizens on the early detection, prevention, treatment and a cure for asbestos related diseases.
  • Making a global stand against asbestos and its legality.
  • Helping asbestos victims meet to share their knowledge.

Ordinary men and women speaking

As in previous years, a mix of industry professionals will feature alongside ordinary men and women speaking about their personal experiences of living with mesothelioma every day. While the latest facts and stats about asbestos mining, manufacturing, and commerce will be featured, throughout the seven days, the attendees will also hear courageous stories with evocative titles such as, “I’ll Do Anything to Fight Mesothelioma to Have More Time with My Family, Anything”, “Asbestos Has Changed My Life” and “I Will Not Die in Vain.”

The estimated annual global figure for cancer fatality is 7.6 million, one-third of which is preventable, according to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The World Health Organisation (WHO) have previously stated that 92,000 deaths were caused by mesothelioma between 1994 and 2008, two-thirds occurring after the year 2000 and a global annual figure of 6,000. They currently claim that 107,000 workers die annually from exposure to asbestos.