Doctors of the future call for better housing

It’s great to see New Zealand medical students call on political leaders to make implementation of a warrant of fitness for private rental housing a post-election priority.

The medical students make the excellent point that unhealthy homes, along with all the other problems they cause, create a massive burden on the health system – today and in the future:

“My classmates and I see children admitted to hospital with respiratory illnesses every day. Many of these cases could be avoided if children lived in warm and dry homes. Doctors are using their training and time to deal with illnesses that could be easily prevented.”

The medical students have written to MPs to challenge them on the issue. They’re also planning to stage an event to draw the WOF to the attention of MPs and the public – people that want to get involved can go here, or go along to Cuba Mall at 1pm on 23rd August. (They also have a facebook page about healthy housing here).

Seeing firsthand the health issues associated with substandard housing, medical students are proving to be a great advocate for better housing. Another group of medical students interviewed the parents of a hundred children admitted to Wellington hospital. Over half of parents said they lived in houses that were colder than they would want. Half of the admissions were judged to be preventable, and in a third of cases it was assessed that improving housing conditions would have reduced the risk of admission [1].

Wellingtonians interested in the WOF and other ideas to improve housing are very welcome to come hear me, Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, and others speak at the launch of the Child Poverty Action Group’s new report on housing tonight at 5.30pm at St Johns in the City. More information here. There’s another launch in Christchurch on Thursday. 

***

[1] For more information on the study, see:

Expert Advisory Group on Child Poverty. (2012). Working Paper no. 18 : Housing Policy Recommendations to Address Child Poverty. Retrieved from http://www.occ.org.nz/assets/Uploads/EAG/Working-papers/No-18-Housing-policy-recommendations-to-address-poverty.pdf

Kelly, A., Denning-Kemp, G., Geiringer, K., Abdulhamid, A., Albabtain, A., Beard, M., … Keall, M. (2013). Exposure to harmful housing conditions is common in children admitted to Wellington Hospital. New Zealand Medical Journal, (December), 108–126. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24362739

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