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Characterization of Healthy Housing in Africa: Method, Profiles, and Determinants
Authors: Samuel Iddi, Kanyiva Muindi, Hellen Gitau and Blessing Mberu
Source: Journal of Urban Health, DOI:
Topic(s): COVID-19
Household decision-making
Household headship
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
  Burkina Faso
Published: JAN 2022
Abstract: Housing is a key social determinant of health with implications for both physical and mental health. The measurement of healthy housing and studies characterizing the same in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are uncommon. This study described a methodological approach employed in the assessment and characterization of healthy housing in SSA using the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data for 15 countries and explored healthy housing determinants using a multiple survey-weighted logistic regression analysis. For all countries, we demonstrated that the healthy housing index developed using factor analysis reasonably satisfies both reliability and validity tests and can therefore be used to describe the distribution of healthy housing across different groups and in understanding the linkage with individual health outcomes. We infer from the results that unhealthy housing remains quite high in most SSA countries. Having a male head of the household was associated with decreased odds of healthy housing in Burkina Faso (OR?=?0.80, CI?=?0.68–0.95), Cameroon (OR?=?0.65, CI?=?0.57, 0.76), Malawi (OR?=?0.70, CI?=?0.64–0.78), and Senegal (OR?=?0.62, CI?=?0.51–0.74). Further, increasing household size was associated with reducing odds of healthy housing in Kenya (OR?=?0.53, CI?=?0.44–0.65), Namibia (OR?=?0.34, CI?=?0.24–0.48), Nigeria (OR?=?0.57, CI?=?0.46–0.71), and Uganda (OR?=?0.79, CI?=?0.67–0.94). Across all countries, household wealth was a strong determinant of healthy housing, with middle and rich households having higher odds of residing in healthy homes compared to poor households. Odds ratios ranged from 3.63 (CI?=?2.96–4.44) for households in the middle wealth group in the DRC to 2812.2 (CI?=?1634.8–4837.7) in Namibia’s wealthiest households. For other factors, the analysis also showed variation across countries. Our findings provide timely insights for the implementation of housing policies across SSA countries, drawing attention to aspects of housing that would promote occupant health and wellbeing. Beyond the contribution to the measurement of healthy housing in SSA, our paper highlights key policy and program issues that need further interrogation in the search for pathways to addressing the healthy housing deficit across most SSA countries. This has become critical amid the COVID-19 pandemic, where access to healthy housing is pivotal in its control.