What is Health Impact Assessment (HIA)?

The most common definition of Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is the one set forth by the European Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1999 in what is known as the “Gothenburg consensus paper.” HIA is presented 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” (WHO Regional Office for Europe, 1999).

The application of HIA to policies is supported by a social model of health which assumes that the health of a population is closely tied to the conditions in which people live and work and that these conditions are influenced by decisions made in all government sectors (Whitehead & Dahlgren, 1991). HIA also rests on the idea that all sectors are responsible for the health of the population. Thus, HIA is generally applied to policies, programs and projects developed in sectors other than health services and generally comes under the responsibility of health departments.



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