Using impact assessment in environment and health: a framework
More and more, countries are faced with the challenge of addressing the burden of disease arising from environmental exposures. Capacity building in environment and health has been recognized as a critical need among Member States of the WHO European Region, and the European Union. To address this need the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health is assisting WHO Member States to use health impact assessment (HIA) and health in environmental assessments (EA) like environmental impact assessments (EIA) and strategic environmental assessments (SEA). In order to further reduce citizens’ environmental health burden of disease and tackle environmental health inequities, a framework for the analysis of environment and health interactions through environmental and health impact assessments is presented in this report. Key stakeholders such as practitioners in public health and environmental agencies at various levels participate in a joint workshop to analyse impact assessments of selected projects, plans, programmes or policies outside the health sector and to place them in the context of other major families of health determinants, such as lifestyle, socioeconomic factors, health care etc. Gaps in capacity and knowledge are discussed as well as how existing environment and health data resources in the country can be used for impact assessment. Based on the analysis and discussions a country specific action plan is developed for enhanced integration of health in environmental assessments and the implementation of standalone HIA if desired.