Health impact assessment (HIA) is usually defined as a combination of procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, a program or a project can be judged or evaluated on the basis of its potential effects on the health of a population (European Centre for Health Policy, 1999).
HIA is most frequently used to assess proposals that are outside of the traditional health care sector, and which do not target health as their principal goal. The approach involves attempting to estimate, with the help of contextual and scientific information, the possible effects on health and well-being with a goal of minimizing the negative effects while maximizing the positive effects. Its Foundations
Acting upon the determinants of health
HIA is highlighted in current theories of population health, and responds to the need to act upstream as much as possible to prevent illnesses and health problems by acting upon the determinants of health. Many policies, programs and projects could be considered to be "determinants of determinants". HIA is a structured, active approach that can influence public policies in order to ensure that they will have outcomes favourable to health.
A shared responsibiliy for health
Recognizing the importance of social, economic and cultural determinants of health, it is also recognized that levers for improving population health can be found outside of the health care sector. Public health actors must therefore work in partnership with those working in the sectors where these levers are to be found (for example, in employment, education, housing, transportation, etc.).
While decisions made in different sectors can have an influence on the health of the population, likewise, the state of health of the population can influence the capacity of society to develop. Also, the development and preservation of the health of the population calls for a collective social responsibility that includes all sectors of society, as much for the private as for the public sector.
Decision-making informed by reliable information
HIA aims to clarify the decision-making process by providing scientific evidence that allows not only a broader view of the stakes involved, but also information about the mid- and long-term consequences of the decisions made. In this sense, HIA responds to modern challenges in managing public services and benefits.
The practice of Health Impact Assessment of projects, programs and policies is performed in several countries and its popularity is growing. In Canada, supportive efforts have been accepted for several years in the environmental sector, where it is used to add a human dimension to environmental impact assessments. British Columbia was one of the first jurisdictions to consider introducing impact assessments of public policies in a centralized and routine manner. Today, other jurisdictions including Quebec, Thailand and the Netherlands have also reached this point. The successes realized in the environmental sector, the proliferation of intersectoral responsibilities and the interest shown by academics, health sector practitioners and decision-makers towards this approach have led to its rapid development. Today, those who take an interest in this field will find that there are many resources at their disposal.
To familiarize yourself with HIA
Health Impact Assessment - Fact Sheet (NCCHPP, 2009)
HIA Series - Introduction to HIA (NCCHPP, 2009)
HIA Series - HIA and Inequities (NCCHPP, 2010)
The Quebec Public Health Act's Section 54 (NCCHPP, 2012)
Presentation on HIA to the Senate subcommittee on population health (NCCHPP, 2008)
To learn more about HIA
HIA: a Promising Action Path For Promoting Healthy Public Policies (NCCHPP, 2008)
Report on the Canadian Roundtable on Health Impact Assessment (NCCHPP, 2008)
Brief History of PATH (Susan Eaton, PATH Network, 2009)
PATH Report: Influencing Healthy Public Policy with Community Health Impact Assessment (Susan Eaton, PATH Network, 2009)
Interprovincial Meeting on HIA (NCCHPP, 2009)
Four Types of Impact Assessment Used in Canada (NCCHPP, 2011)
Health Impact Assessment - Inventory of Resources (NCCHPP, 2012)
Health Impact Assessment Guides and Tools (NCCHPP, 2008)
Canadian Handbook on Health Impact Assessment on the Health Canada website
Public Policy and Health Portal INSPQ
Health Impact Assessment (HIA): A tool to promote healthy public policies (NCCHPP, 2010)
Practice Standards for Health Impact Assesment (HIA) (North American HIA Practice Standards Working Group, 2009)
Development of a Canadian HIA Course (Habitat Impact Consulting, 2009)
Citizen Participation in HIA: An Overview of the Principal Arguments Supporting It (NCCHPP, 2011)
Citizen Participation in HIA: An Overview of the Risks and Obstacles (NCCHPP, 2011)
Citizen Participation in Health Impact Assessment: Overview of Issues (NCCHPP, 2012)
Information Grid - Canadian HIA intiatives (NCCHPP, 2010)
HIA Implementation in Canada: HIA Pilot Project in Montérégie, Québec (NCCHPP, 2011)
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