Adult mortality in slums of Karachi, Pakistan.

D. R. Marsh, M. M. Kadir, K. Husein, S. P. Luby, R. Siddiqui, S. B. Khalid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Cause-specific death rates are rarely available to guide health interventions for adults in South Asia. We report mortality patterns among Karachi's urban poor. METHODS: We conducted verbal autopsies for adult deaths under active surveillance during 1990-1993 in five urban slums of Karachi. Two physicians assigned underlying cause of death by consensus. Analysis included cause- and category-specific rates, 45Q15s and comparison with 1991 Japanese national statistics. RESULTS: All 345 adult deaths (15-59 years) in the 5 slums (total population 45,389) were included. Male mortality exceeded female (4.4 vs 3.3/1000, p = .02). Noncommunicable diseases claimed 59% of deaths, communicable and reproductive 27% and injuries, 15%. The leading identified death rates (/100,000) among women were: circulatory disorders (66), maternal causes (33), tuberculosis (30), and burns (23); and among men they were: circulatory disorders (124) tuberculosis (30) and road traffic accidents (30). Overall Karachi adult mortality was 3.7 times Japanese rate. Compared to Japan, adults in Karachi had one to two orders of magnitude excess mortality due to maternal causes, tuberculosis and burns. Circulatory disorders and tuberculosis accounted for 47% of excess male mortality; these plus maternal causes and burns accounted for 55% of excess female mortality. CONCLUSION: These mortality levels and patterns compel interventions and research for poor urban adults beyond maternal health. Women's health would equally benefit from tuberculosis control or burn prevention. Men need safer travel. Both need improved cardiovascular health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalJPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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