Health impact assessment

HIA was one of the core themes in Phase IV (2003–2008) of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network. Its goal was to integrate HIA in decision-making in cities, to take account of people’s health and well-being while developing policies, programmes and projects.

WHO/Europe has defined HIA “a combination of procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, programme 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”.

Four values are particularly important for HIA: democracy, sustainable development, equity and the ethical use of evidence.

HIA can be a useful tool for promoting integrated planning, reducing inequality and achieving sustainable development. It can contribute to the evidence base on determinants of health and help raise awareness of these determinants among different sectors at the local and national levels.

WHO/Europe developed and pilot-tested a HIA toolkit for European cities, with funding from the European Union. This project reflected responded to the need of healthy cities and national networks for a transferable HIA tool at the European level.