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Prize for research on housing “humility”

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Two decades of groundbreaking research into the impact of housing interventions on the health and well-being of residents has earned an Otago researcher and her team New Zealand’s top research award.

Distinguished Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman and University of Otago (Wellington) researchers He Kainga Oranga (Housing and Health Research Program) were awarded the Rutherford Medal 2021.

It was awarded by the Royal Society Te Aparangi and is accompanied by a cash prize of $ 100,000 from the Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment.

Professor Howden-Chapman’s research has shown how simple housing improvements to combat cold, damp and hazardous conditions could dramatically reduce rates of infectious, respiratory and cardiovascular disease and death, especially in children and seniors.

The work influenced innovations in government policy, including the introduction of winter fuel payment and legislation requiring homeowners to adhere to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for housing and living. health.

Professor Howden-Chapman said she was “delighted and deeply honored” by the award.

“Our multidisciplinary research team is committed to performing research of the highest quality in partnership with communities, in order to inform national and international housing policies.

“To receive this prestigious award is very humbling.”

She said the research team is now reviewing the implementation of the WHO housing and health standards and mapping the effectiveness of different types of public and community housing providers in achieving key goals of well-being and health.

University of Otago Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise Prof. Richard Blaikie said the university was “exceptionally proud” of the group’s heyday.

“The impacts of the many programs the team has participated in have resulted in significant changes to our national housing standards and regulatory framework, and have had positive impacts for many individuals and communities in various contexts.

“These have also clearly reduced the pressure on our public health system and resulted in significant savings in health care. “

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