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Housing Impacts Health: New WHO Guidelines on Housing and Health

In Health, Nation
December 20, 2018

The quality of housing has major implications for people’s health. 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. .

Housing is becoming increasingly important to public health due to demographic and climate changes, according to the latest WHO Housing and health guidelines released today.

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.

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). Housing is therefore a major entry point for intersectoral public health programmes and primary prevention.