A Health Impact Assessment is most often defined as “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” (World Health Organization, 1999). It’s widely recognized as one way to consider “health in all policies.” HIAs have been used in the United States on land use, transportation, education, criminal justice, labor, agriculture, energy, budgeting, and other decision making areas to inform policymakers about the health impacts of proposed policies, projects and plans.
From July 14th to July 17, 2014, I had the privilege of attending a four-day training in Oakland that was conducted by the San Francisco Public Health Department. The overall goal of the training was to provide current and future practitioners of HIA experience using available procedures, regulations, and tools to implement an HIA. During the training they brought in several outside presenters to share their HIA work and experiences; the speakers covered a wide range of topics and methods, all while encouraging participant sharing and dialogue. From these presentations and panels, recurring themes emerged, including the importance of collaboration among agencies and organizations, community involvement, and the surging need to consider health in all policies. Overall, the training was a great experience; I got to network with fellow aspiring HIA practitioners, as well as seasoned HIA practitioners. I would strongly recommend this training to anyone considering conducting an HIA.
Want to know more? Check out the following resources.
- Health Impact Project-- http://www.healthimpactproject.org/
- Society of Practitioners of Health Impact Assessment-- http://hiasociety.org/
- San Francisco Department of Public Health-- http://www.sfhealthequity.org/resources/hia-tools
- UCLA HIA Training Manual-- http://www.ph.ucla.edu/hs/health-impact/training.htm