Housing and Health in Haiti

06 Aug 2010

ARCHIVE offer architects and designers the opportunity to make a difference in Haiti

On the six-month anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, the international charity ARCHIVE (Architecture for Health In Vulnerable Environments) launched the campaign Kay e Sante nan Ayiti (Creole for Housing and Health in Haiti) to raise awareness of how innovative housing designs can reduce the transmission of airborne diseases such as tuberculosis (TB).

The one-year campaign starts with a global design competition calling on architects, engineers, health specialists, and the general public to pool together their knowledge and submit housing designs which can mitigate TB transmission and are sensitive to the local culture. The campaign website serves as a platform for both professionals and students from various disciplines to post their details and find suitable team-mates to partner with. An interdisciplinary panel of judges and the local community will choose five winning designs for construction in an integrated community development and healthcare pilot project in the coastal port town of Saint-Marc in western Haiti, an hour’s drive (100km) from capital Port-au- Prince. The winning designs will also be showcased in travelling exhibits to universities worldwide and in a ‘best practice’ design development compendium.

According to the World Health Organisation, TB is a particular public health concern after the Haiti earthquake. Haiti has the highest TB rate in the Americas; in 2007 it had an estimated 306 TB cases per 100,000 persons, compared with 4.4 cases per 100,000 persons in the US in the same year. After HIV/AIDS TB is Haiti's greatest infectious cause of death. Many of the TB patients who received care before the quake saw their treatment interrupted and as a result may become more infectious. People living with HIV/AIDS are especially vulnerable to contracting TB, with one third of them already co-infected. The 1 million people that were made homeless and lost access to sanitation are also particularly at risk.

Housing can be designed to minimise airborne disease infection. Adjusting the material composition of walls, floors, and roofs in houses can lower humidity, improve ventilation, and increase direct sunlight, which in turn reduces the presence of indoor pathogens. Kay e Sante nan Ayiti will engage local communities on the topic of housing as a vital component of a holistic public health strategy focusing equally on prevention and treatment. As such, ARCHIVE will carry out on-site training sessions, workshops, and community-led seminars in partnership with F.E.B.S., a local community organisation.

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