Those working in health and safety will most likely be aware that asbestos can be a major hazard if it is disturbed. However, how many people know that the biggest cause of work-related death is the deadly asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma? The cancer causes one in five work-related deaths and kills around 2,500 people a year in the UK, making us the worst affected country in the world.
With no cure or effective treatments available most people die within three years of diagnosis, many within months. It is estimated that around 60,000 people will die from this disease over the next 30 years unless new treatments are discovered. Despite this, research into mesothelioma is disproportionately underfunded in comparison to diseases that kill a similar number of people, such as skin cancer.
If we are to save people who are at risk of developing mesothelioma in the future this needs to change.
But how are we going to fund this research without burdening the taxpayer? There is a solution. Insurers pay out millions every year in compensation to people with mesothelioma who were exposed to asbestos at work. Just a tiny percent of the estimated £11bn insurers are expected to pay out in compensation in the future – something as small as 0.05 per cent every year – would help create a sustainable research fund that could revolutionise mesothelioma care in this country. It would even save insurers millions. With mesothelioma patients living longer, healthier lives as a result of better treatments found through research, compensation pay-outs would be significantly reduced.
We are urging anyone concerned about the welfare of those affected by this dreadful disease to write to their MP – their voice could help cut the number of deaths in the future. For more details please visit www.blf.org.uk
Dr Penny Woods is the chief executive of the British Lung Foundation
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