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New Study shows CPAG’s call for Housing Warrant of Fitness should be taken seriously

New Study shows that CPAG’s call for Boosted Incomes and Housing Warrant of Fitness should be taken very seriously, to improve the lives of children.

A study from the University of Otago has recently been released in regards to better housing conditions and how this can positively benefit the health of young children in New Zealand. The study asserts that dry, warm houses can decrease hospital admissions for children suffering from acute respiratory infections by an estimated 20%.

Dr Ingham, who is a Senior Researcher at the University of Otago, agrees that this is not something we can ignore, calling it a ‘wake-up call’ with doctors finding that it children being admitted to hospital is a recurring issue.

Eliminating damp housing will not only help to stop young children from falling ill and being admitted to hospital, but will save the country just under $8 million in hospital costs. Respiratory infections were particularly prevalent in young Māori and Pacific children. As these children are falling ill at such a young age, this can be damaging for their health in the long-term.

The study focused on children who were being admitted to hospital for respiratory infections and results found that the majority of these children were living in poor housing conditions with mould and dampness. The study went onto mention that this could be improved with insulation, better heating and ventilation.

Frank Hogan, a Housing and Children’s Rights Spokesperson for CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) mentioned that the new Healthy Homes Guarantee Act that will be enforced in New Zealand is still not enough to prevent children from falling ill. Hogan said the new laws are definitely a step in the right direction but are not completely resolving the problem.

Another problem is overcrowding, which can cause infection to spread more easily. “More affordable housing options need to be provided to reduce the need for families who live together in crowded situations” says Hogan.

The study also showed that children falling ill from damp houses are those whose families have lower household incomes. These families find it more difficult to find affordable housing and be able to provide for their families’ basic needs. Younger children and babies living in overcrowded conditions are far more vulnerable and at a higher risk of secondary infection, which is a huge risk to their long-term health, mentions Nikki Turner, a CPAG Health Spokesperson.

Some illnesses for younger children have proven to be fatal, like the passing of Emma-Lita Bourne who suffered from pneumonia but also lived in a damp, cold state house.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei commented on the coroner's finding into Emma-Lita’s death, which was triggered by poor living conditions. She said that “the Government needed to take immediate action to put in place a warrant of fitness for all state houses”. She says state houses should be in a livable condition, being both warm and dry before the tenants move in, particularly for vulnerable families who are already at a high risk of falling sick due to overcrowding.

CPAG believes an extensive housing Warrant of Fitness needs to be done before any tenants move in, to ensure the house is insulated, warm and safe. This is essential to improve the children of New Zealand’s health and well-being and prevent children from coming into the hospital with respiratory infections.

Middlemore Hospital faces a daily struggle of trying to treat young children, suffering from respiratory diseases due to cold, damp houses. Warmth during the cooler months is an essential part of ensuring younger children are not being admitted to hospital regularly, so change is needed.

If you would like to help us change the odds in South Auckland for the sake of our children within this community, please donate to our Mana-ā-Riki project, where we work alongside whānau to resolve key issues in homes, like cold and dampness, in an innovative and cost-effective way.

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