Access to adequate housing is a growing global challenge due to increased urbanisation. Currently, over 880 million people in developing countries live in slums and by 2030, it is expected that 6 out of 10 people will live in urban areas. A habitable shelter is an important factor for the health and wellbeing of all. An appropriate housing policy can contribute to our community's health in several important ways:
It's Good for the Environment
In some parts of the country, teachers, police officers, nurses, artisans and other workers cannot afford housing near their workplaces. Instead, they travel long distances from more reasonably-priced suburbs. These long commutes burn fossil fuels, produce smog, and clog roads. With adequate affordable housing, the people who make your community work can live near their jobs. This will dramatically cut energy use and pollution, especially air pollution, which is dangerous to human health.
It's Good for the Social Structure
Communities without affordable housing quickly become segregated by income and family background. In order to promote economic and social diversity, our communities need to provide for the needs of all families. Well-placed affordable housing developments allow communities to welcome a wide range of families and to create a vibrant, diverse, group of residents.
It's Good for the Health and Wellbeing of all
Doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers who cannot afford public transport to their workplaces travel long distances from suburbs to towns and from towns to suburbs to report daily in their health centres. These long commutes requires lots of energy and healthcare givers end up tired and feel grumpy from the long distance travel. With adequate affordable housing, healthcare providers who cater for the health and wellbeing of residents can live near their jobs. This will curb maternal and infant mortality.
It is essential for maternal health services
Poor housing conditions are linked with many health conditions including infections, poisoning, injuries and mental health. Women with stable and standard housing are more empowered to manage their health than their counterparts, while homeless expectant mothers are likely to suffer from malnutrition thus leading to poor maternal and child health outcomes. However, connecting expectant mothers with inadequate shelter to maternal health services is essential for their health and survival. Therefore, the need to create adequate housing support for expectant mothers can help to improve maternal health and empower the expectant mothers.
It's good for the economy
In order to thrive, new businesses need easy access to workers. Affordable housing developments ensure that working families will remain in a particular community. These working families provide the labor that makes the economy grow. In addition, encouraging working families to settle in a community will help provide a growing population of students to keep your local school system healthy and strong. Reasonably priced rentals and houses will also allow families to remain in a community even when they experience temporary job loss, a disruption to the family, or an illness or other crisis.
It alleviates poverty and promotes health and wellbeing
Affordable housing enables families have savings. Most people in communities do not visit healthcare centres due to the fear of incurring lots of expenses, but having affordable housing will help families save enough to be able to afford primary healthcare and it will help reduce maternal and child mortality.
Housing in many states in Nigeria has risen beyond the reach of the average working family. Yet, an adequate supply of budget friendly residences is essential to community health. If there aren't homes for workers, especially healthcare providers, then there’s a need to advocate for a better housing policy. Pregnant women with poor shelter are more exposed to communicable diseases and insecurity. A habitable shelter must be spacious, ventilated and dignifying to prevent threats to maternal health outcomes because cramped and unhygienic conditions of Internally Displaced Persons camps across Nigeria create substandard shelter which affects pregnant women and infants.
Ensuring improved housing will reduce congestion and stop the spread of communicable diseases and prevent vulnerable girls and women who without access to adequate shelter may be exposed to rape and sexual/gender based violence. When housing is standard, caregivers and families can help and care for both mom and baby.