Dramatic housing transformation in sub-Saharan Africa revealed for first time

March 27, 2019

Using state-of-the-art mapping, the study, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London and Malaria Atlas Project, University of Oxford, is the first accurate estimate of urban and rural housing quality in sub-Saharan Africa. While highlighting the positive transformation in the region, the prevalence of improved housing doubling from 11% in 2000 to 23% in 2015, the study also estimates that 53 million urban Africans (in the countries analysed) still lived in slum conditions in 2015.

Adequate housing is integral to many associated health outcomes including mental health, respiratory disease, diarrhoeal disease, and vector borne diseases, such as malaria. Addressing the housing needs of a growing population is therefore key to sustainable urban development and the health and wellbeing of millions of Africans.

The researchers say these new data will be vital to guide interventions to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 which aims for universal access to adequate, safe and affordable housing and to upgrade slums by 2030.

Lead author Dr Lucy Tusting, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who conducted the work while at the Malaria Atlas Project, University of Oxford, said: "Adequate housing is a human right. The housing need is particularly urgent in Africa where the population is predicted to more than double by 2050. Remarkable development is occurring across the continent but until now this trend this had not been measured on a large scale.

"These results are a crucial step to reaching sustainable development goals as quickly as possible, and show that African housing is transforming, with huge potential to improve human health and wellbeing."

To produce these new estimates, the researchers combined data from 661,945 households from 31 countries into a model using an innovative technique that allowed the prevalence of different house types to be mapped across the African continent.

Housing was categorised using the United Nations description, where houses with improved water and sanitation, sufficient living area and durable construction were considered to be improved. Housing lacking any one of these features was considered to be unimproved.

The prevalence of improved housing was highest in countries including Botswana, Gabon and Zimbabwe, and lower in countries such as South Sudan.

The researchers also found that the housing transition may be linked to economic development. Improved housing was 80% more likely among more educated households and twice as likely in the wealthiest households, compared to the least educated and poorest families.

Senior author Dr Samir Bhatt from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London said: "These findings highlight that poor sanitation remains commonplace across much of sub-Saharan Africa, which may be holding back progress to improve living conditions. Our study demonstrates that people are widely investing in their homes, but there is also an urgent need for governments to help improve water and sanitation infrastructure."

Dr Fredros Okumu, Director of Science at Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, and a co-author of the paper said: "The changes that we have observed are incredibly significant, especially since households mostly paid for these improvements with their own incomes and no external financing.

"From a public health perspective, this trend presents a massive opportunity for African governments to accelerate ongoing efforts against vector-borne diseases such as malaria, and to secure such gains for the long-term."

The authors acknowledge limitations of their study including the difficulty of using a single definition to capture the full range of housing conditions across sub-Saharan Africa. The study also relied on national surveys which may not be directly comparable due to variation in their methods and data collection procedures, and which represent a limited sample of African households.
-end-
Dr Tusting was supported by a fellowship from the UK Medical Research Council to conduct this work.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Related Malaria Articles from Brightsurf:

Clocking in with malaria parasites
Discovery of a malaria parasite's internal clock could lead to new treatment strategies.

Breakthrough in malaria research
An international scientific consortium led by the cell biologists Volker Heussler from the University of Bern and Oliver Billker from the UmeƄ University in Sweden has for the first time systematically investigated the genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium throughout its life cycle in a large-scale experiment.

Scientists close in on malaria vaccine
Scientists have taken another big step forward towards developing a vaccine that's effective against the most severe forms of malaria.

New tool in fight against malaria
Modifying a class of molecules originally developed to treat the skin disease psoriasis could lead to a new malaria drug that is effective against malaria parasites resistant to currently available drugs.

Malaria expert warns of need for malaria drug to treat severe cases in US
The US each year sees more than 1,500 cases of malaria, and currently there is limited access to an intravenously administered (IV) drug needed for the more serious cases.

Monkey malaria breakthrough offers cure for relapsing malaria
A breakthrough in monkey malaria research by two University of Otago scientists could help scientists diagnose and treat a relapsing form of human malaria.

Getting to zero malaria cases in zanzibar
New research led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Ifakara Health Institute and the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program suggests that a better understanding of human behavior at night -- when malaria mosquitoes are biting -- could be key to preventing lingering cases.

Widely used malaria treatment to prevent malaria in pregnant women
A global team of researchers, led by a research team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), are calling for a review of drug-based strategies used to prevent malaria infections in pregnant women, in areas where there is widespread resistance to existing antimalarial medicines.

Protection against Malaria: A matter of balance
A balanced production of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines at two years of age protects against clinical malaria in early childhood, according to a study led by ISGlobal, an institution supported by ''la Caixa'' Foundation.

The math of malaria
A new mathematical model for malaria shows how competition between parasite strains within a human host reduces the odds of drug resistance developing in a high-transmission setting.

Read More: Malaria News and Malaria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.