Indoor air pollution and child health in Pakistan
Report of a seminar held at the Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan, 29 September 2005
Pakistan has one of the highest childhood death burdens in the world, and pneumonia is the main single cause of death. As a contributor to the pneumonia burden, the country has a significant indoor air pollution (IAP) problem. Biomass fuel (wood, crop residues, animal dung) which is being used in four fifths of all households in Pakistan is the major source of IAP when it is burned for cooking, space heating and lighting homes. Biomass is mostly burned in inefficient three-stone stoves leading to incomplete combustion and high levels of indoor air concentration of smoke. There is a dearth of scientific studies in Pakistan to relate IAP to health effects; consequently IAP is not a recognized environmental hazard at policy level.
Building on the Situation analysis of household energy use and indoor air pollution in Pakistan, WHO organized a one day seminar at The Aga Khan University (AKU), Karachi, in September 2005 to raise awareness of household energy issues, indoor air pollution and its effect on child health. Presentations ranged from topics related to the situation of indoor air pollution and household energy issues globally and in Pakistan, to local initiatives such as fuel-efficient stoves and promotion of liquefied petroleum gas. Participants developed follow-up action points to raise awareness about indoor air pollution in Pakistan and develop locally acceptable and sustainable solutions. The seminar was followed by a three day workshop to develop proposals for research projects for selected sites to document the impact of interventions on air pollution on child health and social and economic circumstances of households.