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Improving NZ housing for winter 'good for the economy'

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Improving NZ housing for winter 'good for the economy'

The standard of housing in New Zealand needs to be significantly improved to reduce demands on the health system, according to the NZ College of Public Health Medicine.

College spokesperson Dr Ramon Pink says substandard, cold and damp housing, fuel poverty, crowding and housing affordability all contribute to the ill health of our population and New Zealand needs a plan to improve housing quality and affordability.

"If we could improve our housing quality we would reduce hospital admissions and save money. Other indices of a healthy society would also improve."

Dr Pink says there is evidence that cold temperatures, air pollution, damp and mould contribute to lung and heart disease, while crowding is associated with communicable disease epidemics such as meningococcal disease, acute rheumatic fever and tuberculosis.

"Many New Zealand houses are considerably colder than the minimum 18 degrees recommended by the World Health Organization and there is evidence that around one third of New Zealanders live in houses with visible mould. Many are on low incomes with Māori and Pacific peoples over represented."

Dr Pink says a recent study found that the benefits of adding insulation and improving heating were a reduction in ill health of the occupants, including less doctors’ visits and hospitalisation, and also less days off school for children.

"A cost benefit analysis found that the benefits of retrofitted insulation outweighed the costs by a ratio of almost two-to-one. Improving housing to promote a healthier living environment is not only good for the occupants it is beneficial for society and the economy by reducing the demands on the health system."

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