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    Nina Hall

    This article has relevance to a report published this month- ‘Pilyii Papulu Purrukaj-ji (Good housing to prevent sickness): A study of housing, crowding and hygiene-related infectious diseases in the Barkly Region, Northern Territory’ (available online at by Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation and the University of Queensland.
    Data were drawn the clinical database, a survey of households in town and bush communities, and interviews with clinicians and public health staff of the Anyinginyi clinic. The data provide a ‘snapshot in time’ of the health status, housing quality and crowding levels.Key points from the report are:
    • Health and housing are linked: Housing and crowding are critical to health: sufficient, well-maintained housing infrastructure can support healthy living practices for hygiene, nutrition and safety. A lack of functioning ‘health hardware’ (showers, toilets, hot water, fridges) increases the transmission risk of hygiene-related infectious diseases.
    • Crowding is chronic: There are much higher levels of crowding in bush communities and in town than officially recorded, with an average of 10.8 people, and up to 22 people per house.
    • Infectious diseases are prevalent in very high rates: There are high rates of preventable, hygiene-related infectious diseases in the bush communities and towns, especially skin infections (boils, sores, scabies and school sores), respiratory infections (upper and lower respiratory tract), and ear, nose and throat infections (middle ear/otitis media, tonsillitis, ear canal and pharyngitis/sore throat).
    • Repeat infections can lead to chronic conditions and early death: Longer term, chronic kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease are the outcome of repeated infection.
    • Housing repairs and new builds are urgently required: New housing is required to reduce current crowding, yet no new housing has been built in at least 12 years in the Barkly region. Housing repairs are often delayed.


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