‘Asbestos: Preventing Potential Hazards’ was an event organised by Bangalore-based organisation Society for Community Health Awareness, Research and Action (SOCHARA) which focused on the problems caused by asbestos. The health hazards discussed were in the Indian context and included identifying ways and mechanisms by which potential hazards can be minimised and prevented.
The day featured two very inspiring speakers who enlightened us about public health issues and the acute hazards posed by asbestos.
Dr. Ravi Narayan is one of the eminent pillars of SOCHARA. He started his career in Public Health in late 1971. He was part of a new batch at the St. John’s College. In this episode of Eco Talk, he speaks about a career laid out on a path less- travelled. “Instead of flying to the East Coast of U.S.A, I landed up in the East Pakistan”, he begins. He visited refugee camps over there and started working for the well-being of the people there for three months.
Dr. Ravi’s jolly personality is infectious. Aside from being focused on his job, he is also a great story-teller – he can narrate very interesting stories on technical subjects like public and community health!
Dr. Ravi has spent his entire life and career focusing and working in the field of Public Health. He has also focused on building awareness about how people can live healthier lifestyles, including ways in which people can avoid visiting doctors too often and wasting their money on medicines; prevention of diseases is the key.
The other talk was delivered by Jagdish Patel, director at the Peoples Training and Research Centre, Vadodara.
Jagdish Patel, on the other hand, acquired his diploma degree in Chemical Engineering in 1977 and started his career in small-scale chemical industries. He later came in contact with various trade unions and joined the fight for the rights of these working-class people. He found that the working conditions for these labourers were pitiful. The Bhopal Gas Tragedy changed his life and point of view completely; previously, he had thought hard about the plight of the workers, but after that incident, he began to proactively focus on matters of their rights on humanitarian grounds. He led campaigns and workshops that helped spread awareness among the labourers and the people and made them realise about their rights and duties.
According to Jagdish, asbestos is one of the most dangerous materials in the world. He insists on workshops that can help spread awareness and stop the usage of asbestos. In this context, he brought forward examples of Asian countries like Japan and South Korea which have already stopped the use of asbestos completely.
Jagdish has also organised future campaigns and health awareness programs and workshops to let people more aware of the dangers to their health.
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Written by Chirashree Shil.