Keywords: sustainable development, health impact assessment, HIA, strategic health assessment, SHA, well-being, evidence-based policy, green economics, sustainability
The role of strategic health impact assessment in sustainable development
Health is one of the main ways of judging effects on humans and is a component of the three overlapping dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, social and economic. Yet, the assessment of health impacts has been neglected as a way of arguing for the importance of policies to foster sustainable development or of evaluating policies from this viewpoint. Health impact assessment (HIA) is one way of trying to do this and has developed considerably in recent years, but its impact is small compared to the challenges that we face. In addition, time constraints and other limitations mean that the role of good quality evidence is not as prominent as it should be and collaboration between different types of expert cannot be adequately developed. It is proposed that a more thorough process should be introduced, 'Strategic Health Assessment' (SHA), that is not tied to particular capital projects and can therefore overcome these limitations.