Health Impact Assessment

What is Health Impact Assessment?

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19 June - 22 July 1946.

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) emcompasses a combination of procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, program or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of a population, and the distribution of those effects within the population. Assessments may be used to evaluate the changes in health that may be reasonably attributable to a project, programme, or policy. HIA serves as a systematic way to to shed light on the health consequences of a particular policy decision.

While HIA can be both prospective and retrospective, the most useful are those assessments which occur before a decision is made. The objective of HIA is to inform the decision-making process, by identifying ways to improve health, while at the same time, mitigating possible adverse health impacts. Hence, HIA can include the use of predictive methods for quantifying health impacts , similar to those used in risk assessment. But, HIA also describes a process by which affected stakeholders may contribute to a decision-making process.

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is similar to, and overlaps with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA). While HIA may seem to have a much more overt focus on human health issues, in fact, many aspects of environmental quality and society are determinants of health.

To learn more about Health Impact Assessment: