After careful examination of the great impact housing wields on public health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has released some housing guidelines to boost the health of people rather than jeopardize it.
The guidelines, contained in a press statement from the WHO’s office in Geneva, Switzerland, noted that improved housing conditions can save lives, reduce disease, increase quality of life, reduce poverty, help mitigate climate change and contribute to the achievement of a number of Sustainable Development Goals, in particular those addressing Health (SDG 3) and Sustainable Cities (SDG 11).
While analyzing the implications of housing qualities on peoples’ health, the document observed that poor housing is associated with a wide range of health conditions such as respiratory diseases including asthma, cardiovascular diseases, injuries, mental health and infectious diseases including tuberculosis, influenza and diarrhoea.
The statement further stressed the importance of housing to public health due to demographic and climate changes.
The statement reads in part: The guidelines provide new evidence-based recommendations on how to reduce major health risks associated with poor housing conditions in 4 areas:
- Inadequate living space (crowding)
- Low and high indoor temperatures
- Injury hazards in the home
- Accessibility of housing for people with functional impairments.
They further identify and summarize existing WHO guidance relevant to housing.
The WHO Housing and health guidelines highlight the significant co-benefits of interventions to improve housing conditions. For example, installing efficient and safe thermal insulation can improve indoor temperatures that support health, while also lowering expenditure on energy and reducing carbon emissions.