Wellington Scoop

Medical students demonstrate in Cuba Street; concerned at unhealthy homes

News from MSGA
Wellington medical students have put their textbooks and stethoscopes aside this weekend, and ventured into the streets of Wellington to call for improved rental housing.

Students from the Wellington campus of the University of Otago staged Operation Housing in Cuba Mall at lunchtime today. Dressed in blue surgical scrubs, the students performed a skit reminiscent of a scene from Grey’s Anatomy. As a siren pierced the air, a stretcher emerged from a cardboard-wrapped gazebo, and was carted through the crowd to a makeshift operating table. “What’s wrong with this child… Oh no, not another case of rheumatic heart disease!” exclaimed one student. When the heart monitor flatlined, the students dropped their heads and asked “what more could we have done?”

The students then addressed the crowd, explaining that more could be done. “Rheumatic heart disease is just one in a long list of diseases that are linked to housing. The sad reality is that New Zealand houses are making us sick,” said Zaineb Ukra, a fourth year medical student. “We need a warrant of fitness scheme for rental houses to make sure every home is a healthy home.”

The demonstration was part of a campaign being run by Medical Students for Global Awareness and the New Zealand Medical Students Association. Juliet Kane is helping to lead the campaign, and explained their rationale. “In a few years we’ll be doctors, and we don’t want to be dealing with tragic illnesses that could have been prevented by making a few improvements to someone’s house.”

Students invited passers-by to write messages on the cardboard house, telling political leaders why a rental housing warrant of fitness is needed. They called upon the public to consider the issue of healthy housing in their voting decisions this year, and invited them to support the campaign via their facebook page, ‘Healthy Homes for New Zealand’ or by following them on twitter @HealthyHomes4NZ.

About us

Medical Students for Global Awareness is a nationwide network of medical students who are passionate about addressing health inequalities on a global and local scale.

New Zealand Medical Students Association is the national representative body for students studying medicine in New Zealand.