WHO Issues Global Guidelines On Prevention Of Unhealthy Housing

The World Health Organization has issued a first-ever set of global “Housing and Health Guidelines” intended to guide national governments as well as development actors in shaping healthier housing policies, standards and codes.

The report and more information is available here.

Busan, South Korea. Half of the world’s population lives in urban environments. One billion people, in slum conditions, which include a wide range of health risks. Photo Credit: Kibae Park/UN Photo

The guidelines, published 27 November, address housing risks to health from a wide range of hazards, including overcrowding, extreme heat and cold, and safety risks. The guidelines also bring together previously published WHO global guidance related to indoor exposures to lead, radon and asbestos, unsafe drinking water and sanitation, and indoor air pollution from cookstoves fuelled by coal, kerosene and biomass.

Unhealthy housing is linked to a wide range of diseases and premature deaths, the report finds, including such factors as heart attacks or respiratory illnesses related to exposure to extreme heat, on the one hand, or cold, on the other, as well as injuries. Excessive crowding increases the risk of exposure to infectious diseases, including tuberculosis. Currently around 1 billion people worldwide live in slums, where many of these health risks exist together.

The WHO guidelines also highlight the co-benefits of improving housing conditions. For example, installing efficient and safe thermal insulation can improve indoor temperatures that support health, while also lowering energy costs and reducing carbon emissions.

“Better housing standards is a key way of improving health and well-being for all & achieving the @GlobalGoalsUN.” tweeted WHO’s Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, @DrTedros.

Improved housing conditions can save lives, reduce disease, increase quality of life, reduce poverty, and help mitigate climate change, the report notes, and contribute towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to health (Goal 3) and sustainable cities (Goal 11), WHO said about the new report.

Link to UN news story about the WHO guidelines https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/11/1026811

Link to the guidelines http://www.who.int/phe/news/note-media-housing-health-guidelines/en/

 

Image Credits: Kibae Park/UN Photo.

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