Some parts of the world have incredibly high rates of asthma and treating it is harder than many think. New Zealand is one such problem, but advocate Nelson Lebo is doing something about it – he’s giving away thousands of pairs of curtains.
Lebo lives in the city of Whanganui, where 25% of the children take medication for asthma. That’s the highest rate in New Zealand and higher than most places in the world. He says that there’s a link between the health issues of asthma and issues with housing.
The houses he’s worried about, those in the poor districts of his city, generally have ceiling insulation and glass doors but that’s often where it stops – windows are very often simply ignored. His answer is to give away hundreds of used curtains and some helpful advice.
One way he’s put it is by telling people that they should dress their doors and windows in the winter the same way they’d dress themselves – with warm, tight-fitting clothes. He’s also going to give advice about how to manage the flow of air through a home and how to prevent mold. If people don’t have curtains, he suggests that they use blankets, towels, and similar items to cover their windows.
Just how serious is this issue? This city sees six people die every year from asthma, and another 160 people hospitalized. The number of children with asthma in this city isn’t just higher than other areas – it’s almost ten percent higher than the national average.
How do curtains help?
Asthma has symptoms like shortness of breath and wheezing, which are caused by sensitivity of the airways. This is all caused by an inflammatory respiratory condition. While there are treatments for it, there are also many things that can make it worse – and curtains can help keep some of those contaminants out.
Lebo isn’t doing this project for the first time. Last year he gave away enough curtains to cover the windows in more than 100 houses. Included with these curtains was the appropriate hardware needed to hang the curtains.
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