Improved housing conditions can save lives, prevent disease, increase quality of life, reduce poverty, and help mitigate climate change. Housing is becoming increasingly important to health in light of urban growth, ageing populations and climate change.
The WHO Housing and health guidelines bring together the most recent evidence to provide practical recommendations to reduce the health burden due to unsafe and substandard housing. Based on newly commissioned systematic reviews, the guidelines provide recommendations relevant to inadequate living space (crowding), low and high indoor temperatures, injury hazards in the home, and accessibility of housing for people with functional impairments. In addition, the guidelines identify and summarize existing WHO guidelines and recommendations related to housing, with respect to water quality, air quality, neighbourhood noise, asbestos, lead, tobacco smoke and radon. The guidelines take a comprehensive, intersectoral perspective on the issue of housing and health and highlight co-benefits of interventions addressing several risk factors at the same time.
The WHO Housing and health guidelines aim at informing housing policies and regulations at the national, regional and local level and are further relevant in the daily activities of implementing actors who are directly involved in the construction, maintenance and demolition of housing in ways that influence human health and safety. The guidelines therefore emphasize the importance of collaboration between the health and other sectors and joint efforts across all government levels to promote healthy housing. The guidelines’ implementation at country-level will in particular contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals on health (SDG 3) and sustainable cities (SDG 11). WHO will support Member States in adapting the guidelines to national contexts and priorities to ensure safe and healthy housing for all.