OCCUPATIONAL diseases such as lung cancer related to asbestos inhalation often remain unreported or misdiagnosed by doctors.
This was a point of concern raised during the Tripartite Occupational Diseases workshop that aims to address occupational diseases in the workplace.
The workshop discussed the issue of occupational diseases on a global and local scale.
Speaking at the meet yesterday, Ministry of Labour medical assessor Doctor Rauni Tikoinayau said this was because a number of those diseases had long hibernation periods.
"Most of the occupational diseases are under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed because of the latency period of the disease, for example, mesothelioma, which is another word for tumours or cancer of the linings of the lungs," Dr Tikoinayau said.
He said on average, it took between 30 and 40 years before this type of cancer could be detected.
"It is related to inhaled dust such as asbestos. Worldwide, there is still a lot, possibly millions of tonnes of asbestos, being used for insulation purposes and other purposes even though it is banned.
"Late last year, there was an asbestos problem in Fiji and we still have asbestos being used in companies and houses and in motor vehicles. It takes years after being exposed to this before you can contract the disease or the symptoms of that particular disease."
He said although there was no known reports of lung cancer related to asbestos inhalation in Fiji, it did not mean it was non-existent.
"This is possibly because of under-reporting and people going undiagnosed. Asbestos exposure takes its toll on people's health and this needs to be addressed."