June 12, 2013
Housing prescription for disease cure
The authors of a study into rising levels of infectious disease say the cure is a massive dose of public housing.
Professor Michael Baker from Otago University’s Wellington School of Medicine says over the past 20 years there has been an unexpected rise in hospitalisation caused by infectious diseases, particularly among children and Maori and Pasifika people.
He says a study of the literature done as part of He Kainga Oranga Housing and Health Research Programme indicates overcrowding is a major factor, with 30 percent of Maori children and 45 percent of Pasifika children living in overcrowded houses.
"I think particularly for say Maori and Pacific families in Auckland where there is just not enough housing to go around, and so the people who miss out are those who have the least resources, the lowest incomes, so they are in a situation where the only way they can afford housing is doubling up. Nothing short of a large scale programme of social housing construction is going to make a dent on this problem," he says.
Professor Baker says interventions such as Housing New Zealand's Healthy Housing Programme in Auckland, Northland and Wellington, which focused on reducing crowding, improving housing conditions and linking households to health and social services, had successfully lowered hospitalisation rates for children in those areas.