Dean Medical College Dr Adil Haider (right) and Director-General SEPA Naeem Mughal (left) sign a MoU with provincial minister Nawab Muhammad Taimur Talpur (center)
Faculty at Aga Khan University will collaborate with the Sindh Environment Protection Agency, SEPA, to study the harmful health effects of air pollution and design interventions to reduce the burden of respiratory illnesses in the province.
SEPA Director-General Naeem Mughal signed a memorandum of understanding at the University that will see faculty assess SEPA’s existing data on air quality, build the research capacity of the agency’s staff and launch studies in leading factories and industrial areas in Sindh.
“We need friends like AKU to provide expertise,” said Nawab Muhammad Taimur Talpur, provincial minister for environment, climate change and coastal development. “What we see [in terms of air pollution] is just the tip of the iceberg, AKU can show us what lies beneath.”
The World Health Organization has designated air pollution as a global public health emergency that causes one in nine deaths around the world. Targets under the global Sustainable Development Goals call for special efforts to improve air quality in order to reduce deaths caused by pollution, and to decrease the environmental impact of pollution in cities. The State of Global Air shares about 4.8 million people in Pakistan in 2017 underwent a Disability-Adjusted life Year (DALY, the metrics quantifying one lost year of healthy life) due to air pollution.
“This agreement will result in the launch of randomized controlled trials in major textile industries that will generate evidence on the most cost-effective interventions to control the hazard of cotton dust,” said Professor Zafar Fatmi from AKU’s department of community health sciences at AKU.
Faculty at AKU are also working in partnership with the Towel Manufacturers Association to study and mitigate the health impacts of cotton dust in the province’s textile industry.