29 June 2010

UK Public Health Association Publishes a Position Paper on HIA

The UKPHA, through the work of its Health and Sustainable Environments Special Interest Group, has recently published a HIA position paper arguing that HIA is one important approach to improving community health and wellbeing.

• strongly supports the use of HIA as a means to achieving better health outcomes in all areas of policy, strategy and development.

• advocates the use of Health Impact Assessment (HIA) as an important and effective approach to ensuring that community health and wellbeing is being protected and improved.

• recommends that HIA should become a mainstream approach, and considers that the uptake, quality and standing of HIA should be enhanced through its regular and consistent application across new policies, plans, programmes and projects.

• believes that the promotion of HIA and HIA techniques can provide a valuable focal point for greater interaction between health, and strategic and development planning bodies, and help to bring about the wider application of good practice in this area.

The UKPHA HIA position paper recommends:
• Routine use of HIA at a strategic level on new policies and plans
• Routine use of HIA at an operational level on new programmes and projects
• Developing stronger guidance and leadership at national and local levels
• Integrating HIA into others forms of impact assessment

Disclosure: I am one of the UKPHA members who helped write up the position paper.

The UKPHA is an independent, UK wide voluntary association, which brings together through our membership, individuals and organisations from all sectors, who share a common commitment to promoting the public's health. The UKPHA mission states that through our members, activities and co-operation with others, we aim to be a unifying and powerful voice for the public's health and well being in the UK, focusing on the need to eliminate inequalities in health, promote sustainable development and combat anti-health forces

14 June 2010

Planning approval for a fast food takeaway near a school with a healthy eating policy has been quashed by the UK High Court

In an important precedent-setting ruling an English judge declared that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets "acted unlawfully" when it gave the go-ahead for fast food takeaway "Fried & Fabulous".

The judge said councillors had voted in favour of permission after being wrongly directed that they could not take account of the proximity of the local secondary school because it was not "a material planning consideration".

The council will now have to reconsider any further planning application for a takeaway at the site in light of the ruling.

For the full story go to: Planning Daily

Courtesy of: Job Fairburn, Staffordshire University, England

7 June 2010

Key findings of review of HIA in Ireland

A major review of HIA activities in Ireland and the role of the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) in promoting HIA has found that IPH has had a substantial impact on:
  • Developing appropriate HIA tools
  • Promoting the use of these tools
  • Providing appropriate training and capacity building
  • Providing follow-up support
  • Providing networking opportunities
  • Raising the awareness of HIA and
  • Conducting HIAs

The review's respondents identifed continuing strategic and operational challenges to mainstreaming HIA. Key among these are:
  • Lack of legislative requirement
  • Lack of explicitly defined responsibilities for implementing HIA
  • Lack of resources - time, staff, skills, finance

Respondents also suggested worthwhile areas of possible future work for the IPH:
  • Lobbying for HIA to be given a legislative/statutory authority.
  • Providing more 'hands on support' undertaking and IPH itself carrying out more HIAs.

The overall conclusions emphasised the need for a three-pronged approach to enhancing HIA in Ireland:
  • 1st - The HIA process needs to be further streamlined.
  • 2nd - Further and continuing capacity-building and training needs to be put in place.
  • 3rd - Political support for HIA is needs to be further developed.

For full details of the report and the work of the Institute go to the IPH website by clicking here.

Click here to go directly to the review page by clicking here

Click here to download the report directly (250kb)