ADRI Named WHO Collaborating Centre in World First

ADRI WHO ribbon cutting

The Asbestos Diseases Research Institute in Concord, NSW has been designated by the World Health Organisation as a Collaborating Centre for the Elimination of Asbestos Related Diseases making it the first of its kind in the world.

The Collaborating Centre Designation was formally announced at a special ceremony at ADRI on Tuesday, 23 March 2021 in the presence of Her Excellency, Margaret Beazley QC, Governor of NSW.

The Assistant Director General of the World Health Organisation Dr Naoka Yamamoto says ‘The World Health Assembly Resolution has called for global campaigns to eliminate asbestos-related diseases and take action on the preventable cancers associated with this exposure.  This requires building capacities in countries to improve knowledge and practices.

‘The WHO has worked with ADRI and Professor Takahashi (Institute Director, ADRI) for many years on this important topic and we are pleased to see this working relationship is now formalised.’

While many think of asbestos use as part of Australia’s history – almost 18 years since a complete ban on asbestos use was implemented in Australia – some 4,000 Australians lose their lives to incurable asbestos–related diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis each year.

Of these, around 800 people die from mesothelioma because despite receiving the best care and while maintaining hope, the unfortunate reality is they will quickly succumb to this preventable disease. The social and economic impacts to carers, families and the community are devastating. 

Since it opened in 2009, ADRI has pioneered bio-medical, clinical, public health and community initiatives and programs domestically and internationally to eliminate asbestos related diseases.

The specialist research and science team examine the interaction between genetics and environmental factors to help explain how diseases like mesothelioma occur and progress; they test new ways to deliver cancer treatments to patients; and, they look at which treatments may have success in limiting tumour growth and why?

‘We believe it is our responsibility to reach outside our laboratory walls, beyond our own borders and across our shores to resource and educate developing countries about the dangers of asbestos and they ways to protect their people,’ said E/Professor Ken Takahashi, Institute Director.  

‘Asbestos is still used widely in these regions so by providing training in pathology, radiology, medicine, public health and nursing, we advance our mission to support the global effort to detect, diagnose and treat cases of asbestos-related disease, with particular emphasis on mesothelioma.  Taking what we have learnt from our own history in Australia and sharing it is critical and urgent.’

What is a WHO Collaborating Centre?

WHO collaborating centres are institutions designated by the Director-General that form an international collaborative network carrying out activities to support WHO’s programmes at all levels.

Background on ADRI

As a response to the incidence of malignant mesothelioma in Australia, the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) located in the Bernie Banton Centre, was opened in January 2009 by the then Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd. ADRI was established by the Asbestos Diseases Research Foundation (ADRF), a charitable, not-for-profit foundation dedicated to assist and support the research efforts of ADRI into asbestos-related diseases.

Before his death in 2007, Bernie Banton campaigned vigorously for the rights of those who suffered, like himself, from asbestos-related diseases. The state-of-the-art research facility on the Concord Hospital Campus was named in his honour and consists of six wet laboratories and two dry laboratories. https://adri.org.au

Asbestos in Australia   https://adri.org.au/asbestos-in-australia/

Her Excellency, Governor of NSW officially announces WHO Designation