Occupational health

Country and Regional Issues

The third AAI international seminar (AAI-3) in Fukuoka, Japan

Ken Takahashi, Professor and Acting Director, WHO Collaborating Center for Occupational Health, Institute of Industrial Ecological Sciences (IIES), University of Occupational and Environmental Health (UOEH), Japan

The WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health of the IIES, UOEH, Japan, organized the Third International Seminar of the Asian Asbestos Initiative. This international collaborative effort, often referred to as the AAI, convenes people representing academia, administration, medical practice and NGOs, to discuss and share knowledge and technologies applicable to the elimination of asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) in the region [1]. AAI has been funded for three years by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences to manage an international academic platform. All activities including the international seminars have been conducted in close collaboration with international organizations including the WHO and ILO.

The Third International Seminar of AAI or AAI-3 was held from 2-4 November 2010 at Hotel Centraza Hakata in Fukuoka City. Invited delegates gathered from Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Palau, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, USA and Vietnam, and were joined by representatives of the ILO (HQ), WHO (WPRO, SEARO), and the International Institute for Global Health of the United Nations University. The Executive Director of the UNEP contributed a video speech showing willing support of the AAI. The theme of “Local Adaptation of Preventive Technologies” was chosen for AAI-3 to integrate lessons learned from the three-year activity.

Countries that supply technology for prevention of ARDs can be classified as donors and countries that receive these technologies as recipients [2]. The donor group has banned asbestos officially or de facto but ARD frequency is increasing whereas the recipient group continues to use asbestos and ARD frequency is nil or just started to rise in number [3]. Such straightforward characterization was useful to promote understanding of expected roles for each party in an international framework. Also the interaction across the donor and recipient countries, and within groups, benefited all parties. Slots on the national situation were deliberately apportioned between academia and administration which offered contrasting (and often complementary) viewpoints. A wide range of topics was covered: exposure and risk assessment, substitution technologies; legislation and national systems; diagnostic skills for ARDs; economic assessment of asbestos exposure and ARDs; and risk communication.

AAI has completed planned activities at the end of its third year, but the task is far from over. Concerned parties, spearheaded by Korean colleagues, are discussing ways for further development.


  • Takahashi K, on behalf of the Asian Asbestos Initiative. Asbestos-related diseases: time for technology sharing. Occup Med (Lond) 2008 58: 384-385.
  • Takahashi K, Kang S-K. Towards elimination of asbestos-related diseases: a theoretical basis for international cooperation. Saf Health Work 2010: 103-106.
  • Le GV, Takahashi K, Park EK, Delgermaa V, Oak C, Qureshi AM, Aljunid SM. Asbestos use and asbestos-related diseases in Asia: past, present and future. Respirology 2011 Mar 30. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1843.2011.01975.x. [Epub ahead of print]