At the 2014 ADAO Asbestos Awareness Conference, keynote speaker Rear Admiral Boris D. Luchniak, MD, MPH delivered a speech on public health which included the topic of advocacy for asbestos exposure awareness. The acting surgeon general focused heavily on core public health functions, including the assessment and monitoring of the health of communities and populations at risk, and the formulation of public policies.

“We’re here to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the world when it comes to asbestos as a subset of all the world problems,” Luchniak said during the speech.

All of us, he pointed out, can play a role in the public health mission. Regardless of job title or location throughout the world, “it takes a village” to spread asbestos awareness.

Furthermore, optimism is essential in the area of public health. Advancements in public health do not happen overnight. Between 1900 and 1999, Luchniak explained, the United States achieved ten notable public health achievements, which included:

  • Vaccination
  • Motor vehicle safety
  • Safer workplaces
  • Control of infectious diseases
  • Decline in deaths from heart disease & stroke
  • Safer and healthier foods
  • Healthier mothers and babies
  • Family planning
  • Fluoridation of water
  • Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard

The above achievements took a great deal of time to accomplish. In the bigger picture, Luckniak says, we need to keep pushing forward in the fight against asbestos exposure in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not an achievement that can happen in a short period of time, which is why optimism is key. All activists, no matter what they do or where they come from, need to keep forging ahead.

Watch the full speech given by the acting Surgeon General at the 2014 ADAO Asbestos Awareness Conference in the video below.