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Prioritize housing and design to save children's lives

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No child should have to miss school or playing with friends due to preventable illnesses. No child should have to suffer or die from these preventable diseases. No mother or father should have to mourn for the loss of a child to common — often treatable — diseases. Yet these daily tragedies still persist.

Rates of early childhood morbidity and mortality remain staggeringly high. Children are too often the first victims of many diseases; they bear the brunt of common diseases of poverty such as tuberculosis, diarrhea, and malaria. The widespread lack of access to proper sanitation and preventive environmental measures is tragic and unacceptable. In 2012 nearly 6.6 million children worldwide died. UNICEF estimates that nearly two-thirds of these deaths were from preventable diseases.

As the foundation of family life, the home can either improve life or destroy health. Presently, without greater awareness of the fundamental importance of the home - houses act as a major breeding ground for disease.

There is something we can do about this. There are simple solutions that we can incorporate in existing homes to help drastically decrease exposure to deadly pathogens and vector-borne illnesses. For instance, durable screens on windows reduce exposure to many deadly vector-borne illnesses such as malaria and chagas. Adequate ventilation systems decrease tuberculosis infection rates by over 40%. And the installation of simple concrete floors cuts the risk of contracting diarrhea and various parasitic infections by nearly 50%.

An emphasis on simple interventions in existing homes is an essential yet unrecognized and underused resource in combating the burden of diseases. Homes can be utilized to meet the needs of a booming world population and to alleviate the manifold pressures of rapid urbanization, poverty, and diseases.

We, the undersigned, therefore;

- Call upon global policy makers to recognize the efficacy and powerful positive effects of simple, cost-effective housing design interventions that are proven to substantially reduce exposure to many diseases;

- Urge decision makers to adopt and actively implement housing interventions as a centralresource and strategy in both preventing and mitigating the many diseases of poverty that affect too many children around the globe;

- Petition global policy makers to promote the fact that access to safe, healthy housing is a basic human right that can significantly impact the health and well-being of children, families, and communities around the world.

 

 



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