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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger
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Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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Coronavirus

“Surgical masks no guarantee against coronavirus” – medical experts

Greeley Pulitzer

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“Surgical masks no guarantee against coronavirus” – medical experts | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Arabian Post

The Wuhan Coronavirus is making news around the world and the sight of people wearing face-masks is now becoming common – whether they’re in a high-risk area or not. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has upgraded the global threat level to “high.” Many countries have banned or reduced flights from China and are stepping up screening efforts at their airports. Malaysia is the latest ASEAN member to join the growing number of countries that have imposed a temporary ban on Chinese nationals arriving from Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province. The Philippines has also banned flights from Wuhan, and sent back 500 Chinese tourists who came from the city.

As Asian commuters cover their noses and mouths with paper thin covers, medical experts dispute the usefulness of mass-produced surgical masks to block transmission of the flu-like virus.

“It is not one of the recommended barrier measures” for those who have not been contaminated, according to France’s health minister. A senior researcher at the Osaka Institute of Public Heath told the media that high-quality masks could be effective, referring to more expensive, tight-fitting respirators used to filter fine dust and pollution.

“But as always, there is no 100% guarantee.”

Still, on Bangkok’s streets many people put faith in surgical masks.

“I’m very concerned about the virus,” one citizen told reporters. “Everywhere I go, I also bring alcohol and hand sanitiser to clean my hands and avoid areas with Chinese tourists.”

Others wore heavier duty PM2.5 masks, in a city shrouded for weeks by damaging pollution. One Bangkok chemist said the outbreak has led to the most intense panic-buying of medical items he has seen since the SARS epidemic of 2002-2003.

“All our mask suppliers are out of stock. The masks are made in China and the country itself is out of stock.”

The World Health Organisation is advising regular hand washing with soap, alcohol rubs and avoiding touching one’s face as well as crowded places as effective habits to protect against infection. The advice has not stopped a run on the masks, stockpiling or price hikes, from Cambodia to Tokyo, Hubei to Hong Kong, where queues stretch outside retailers with stocks.

But while Southeast Asian governments are stepping up efforts to prevent the virus from entering their countries, their efforts may be hampered. They may be able to effectively monitor who enters and leaves their respective countries legally, but what about those who slip under the radar?

Increasing border patrols, enhancing screening efforts, blocking people from entering and even sending back Chinese tourists may be effective, but the ASEAN region also has the issue of human trafficking.

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index by human rights group Walk Free, some 25 million people are trapped in modern slavery in the Asia Pacific region, or 62 % of the global total. The US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons reports for 2018 and 2019 paint a grim picture for most ASEAN countries in terms of human trafficking. The coronavirus highlights the deadly consequences that could arise when problems like human trafficking are not dealt with.

SOURCE: The ASEAN Post

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Thailand

Thailand is the leading ASEAN nation in annual suicide rates

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand is the leading ASEAN nation in annual suicide rates | The Thaiger

“Thailand, which ranks in 32nd place with 14.4 of suicides per 100.000 population – or nearly 10,000 suicide deaths last year.”

Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide and nearly 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, according to the World Health Organisation. In Thailand, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds, after road injury.

Thailand, which ranks in 32nd place with 14.4 of suicides per 100.000 population – or nearly 10,000 suicide deaths last year – holds the unenviable position of number 1 among ASEAN countries on the WHO suicide list, followed by Singapore (Rank 67 with the ratio of 11.2) and Laos (Rank 84 with the ratio of 8.6. The Philippines has the ASEANS’s least rate (Rank 163 with the ratio of 3.2). Brunei wasn’t on the 183-country list.

While noting that the number of countries with national suicide prevention strategies had increased to 38 in the five years since the publication of WHO’s first global report on suicide, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that this was still far too few and governments need to commit to establishing them.

“Despite progress, one person still dies every 40 seconds from suicide,” said Ghebreyesus.

“Every death is a tragedy for family, friends and colleagues. Yet suicides are preventable. We call on all countries to incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programmes in a sustainable way.”

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

The “40 seconds of action” campaign held last October provided an opportunity for people to help improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reduce the stigma associated with suicide; and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.

The WHO also urged people to share their messages, photos, illustrations and videos that are not of a private nature on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #40seconds and #WorldMentalHealthDay.

SOURCE: The Nation

Thailand is the leading ASEAN nation in annual suicide rates | News by The Thaiger

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Economy

ASEAN aiming to develop Universal Healthcare Coverage for all member states

The Thaiger

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ASEAN aiming to develop Universal Healthcare Coverage for all member states | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Pacific Health Care

Promoting universal healthcare coverage for citizens is now a common goal of ASEAN member states. The aim is to grant people access to healthcare without barriers to improve nations’ health and wellbeing of all citizens. Universal healthcare is a hallmark of civilised governments around the world with the UN describing UHC as a right of all citizens.

Deputy Permanent Secretary of Public Health Ministry Dr Supakit Sirilak says the ASEAN Bloc hopes to assist some member states lift the standard of their medical services to provide full universal healthcare, understanding that each nation is at a different stage of economic development. Supakit oversees ministerial collaboration on the health agenda for the ASEAN states.

“Governments of some countries have yet to provide health coverage to civil servants. It would be difficult for them to implement UHC in the near future.”

ASEAN countries fall into three groups progressing on their healthcare development journey.

• Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have succeeded in setting up successful UHC (Universal Health Care).

“The entire populations of these countries are covered by healthcare insurance.”

• Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam are halfway through the journey to UHC.

“Their governments have passed laws to guarantee healthcare access to citizens but their health insurance programs do not cover every citizen at this stage.”

• Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar lack financial resources to fund free healthcare for citizens at this stage.

“Each ASEAN nation has a different level of health expenditure, showing the gap in health access among citizens in the region.”

For example, in 2016, the average Singaporean spent approximately 74,400 baht per person on health. A person in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand spent from 3,400 – 19,000 baht, while health expenditure per person in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar was less than 3,000 baht per person.

Using Thailand’s journey to UHC as an example, the Minister noted that the Kingdom was a middle-income country that could achieve UHC without getting rich first. Supakit said the success of introducing UHC in Thailand was de to two main factors: infrastructure readiness and long-term commitment from successive governments.

Prior to the introduction of UHC in 2002 (an initiative by PM Thaksin Shinawatra) the Thai government allocated large budgets to improve health facilities including building hospitals in every district and increasing the numbers of rural doctors. Successive political parties committing to the project improved UHC and expanded its benefits.

“But we don’t want just a few countries to achieve UHC. We want to see our neighbours, ASEAN members and the world do it.”

Achieving UHC is one of the main targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations is strongly encouraging the leaders of every country to introduce UHC for the good health and wellbeing of their citizens.

SOURCE: Thailand Today

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