NSW Public Health Bulletin archive

Health impact assessment: An international perspective

Alex Scott-Samuel

New South Wales Public Health Bulletin 16(8) 110 - 113 Published: 2005

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Alex Scott-Samuel


The most widely accepted definition of health impact assessment (HIA), from a consensus conference in Gothenburg organised by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) European Centre for Health Policy, defines HIA as ‘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’. Thus HIA is both a prospective approach (looking at potential effects) and an equity-focused one (looking at distributional impacts and attempting to prevent inequities that might arise from the policy under consideration). In this article I will refer only to policies, though HIA does of course cover policies, programs and projects.