Boosting Advocacy withHealth Impact Assessments
Alliance for Biking & Walking Mutual Aid CallWednesday, September 11, 2013
Health impact assessments (HIAs) can be important tools when planning or healthy transportation. In adecision-making process, HIAs bring public health issues to the oreront so that planners and policymakersoutside the public health world can incorporate everyday wellness into the built environment. On this call,planners and practitioners discussed how advocates and ocials can use HIAs to boost biking and walking.
Background: Why HIAs?
We are experiencing epidemics in multiple chronic diseases. At this point, it is impracti-cal to cure these illnesses and better to ocus on preventing them. But in order to do so,we need some upstream approaches.
Many important public health decisions are made outsidePublic Health departments. Upront policy work in the builtenvironment is important to allow us to really prevent chronicdisease.
Built environment decisions have huge public health impacts,and these decisions —locating biking & walking acilities,instituting complete streets plans, connecting the overall transportation networks — arebeing made at a planning department or agencies.
Yet traditionally, health is not a consideration in transportation decisions. ransporta-tion policymakers oen don’t consider how good biking and walking inrastructure areor health. Tis is where Health Impact Assessments come in.
Policy work in thebuilt environmentis important forpreventing chronicdisease.
What is an HIA?
Te purpose o an HIA is to look at the health impacts – both positive and negative – sothat public ocials can consider health in decision-making.
An HIA can be used to evaluate policy, programs, plans or projects.
It’s a scientically based decision-support tool that involves a democratic process withstakeholder engagement and community participation.
Steps of an HIA
– First, practitioners evaluate whether or not do an HIA. Are there potentialsignicant health impacts? Is the burden disproportionate? Will an HIA realistically add to decision-making process, and are decision makers open to the eedback? Isthere enough time, and are there sucient resources and data? I any o these key ele-ments aren’t there, it may not be the right time to do an HIA.
– Practitioners choose how they will perorm the HIA. Identiy the popula-tions that might be aected. Choose the impacts to assess. Identiy what to do givenlimited time and resources. Establish the team and game plan.
– Practitioners establish a community prole and baseline health data or thecommunity at hand. Using literature reviews, ocus groups, quantitative modeling and