Untapped potential of health impact assessment [Un potentiel inexploité de l'évaluation de l'impact sanitaire]
Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Socinstrasse 57, CH-4051 Basel, Switzerland; New Fields, Denver, United States; SHAPE Consulting Ltd, Pretoria, South Africa; Temkin Wielga and Hardt LLP, Denver, United States; Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, United States
The World Health Organization has promoted health impact assessment (HIA) for over 20 years. At the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), HIA was discussed as a critical method for linking health to "green economy" and "institutional framework" strategies for sustainable development. In countries having a high human development index (HDI), HIA has been added to the overall assessment suite that typically includes potential environmental and social impacts, but it is rarely required as part of the environmental and social impact assessment for large development projects. When they are performed, project-driven HIAs are governed by a combination of project proponent and multilateral lender performance standards rather than host country requirements. Not surprisingly, in low-HDI countries HIA is missing from the programme and policy arena in the absence of an external project driver. Major drivers of global change (e.g. population growth and urbanization, growing pressure on natural resources and climate change) inordinately affect low- and medium-HDI countries; however, in such countries HIA is conspicuously absent. If the cloak of HIA invisibility is to be removed, it must be shown that HIA is useful and beneficial and, hence, an essential component of the 21st century's sustainable development agenda. We analyse where and how HIA can become fully integrated into the impact assessment suite and argue that the impact of HIA must not remain obscure.
health impact; human development index; population growth; public health; sustainable development; urbanization; World Health Organization; article; climate change; economic aspect; environmental impact assessment; environmental protection; health care policy; health impact assessment; health program; human; human development; population growth; social aspect; sustainable development; United Nations; urbanization; world health organization; Conservation of Natural Resources; Decision Making; Developing Countries; Environment; Health Impact Assessment; Humans; Policy; Population Dynamics; World Health; World Health Organization