Health Impact Assessments (HIA) are an emerging trend in public health in the United States. There are a growing number of recommendations, guidance, and workshops regarding how to implement these assessments within communities. The World Health Organization has defined Health Impact Assessments as “means of assessing the health impacts of policies, plans and projects in diverse economic sectors using quantitative, qualitative and participatory techniques.” Here in the U.S. the CDC has taken steps to promote these assessments and provide information to practitioners. They have created a factsheet to inform those in public health on the major steps that need to be taken as well as provide resources and links to guidance from other organizations.
The field of environmental health could benefit from implementing a Health Impact Assessment regarding the threats faced from the environment. Practitioners are already familiar with environmental impact assessments, but this gives further guidance on how to protect the health of communities. Many of the steps included in the CDC guidance align with common practices in environmental health, including screening, assessing risks, reporting and evaluation. However, the added bonus in the Health Impact Assessment framework is that is gives a groundwork for formulating policies and procedures that can implemented to educate and protect the public from the threats faced from the environment.
We encourage those attending the SOPHE Annual Meeting to attend the workshop on Health Impact Assessments (Thursday, October 27th, 6:00 to 9:00 PM).