The Health Impact Project, a joint effort of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts, has announced six grants totaling more than $1 million to support health impact assessments (HIAs) at the state and local levels.
Health impact assessments help policy makers understand how a proposed project or policy could affect the well-being of the people in a community by enabling them to weigh the pros and cons of their decisions and put in place practical strategies to minimize adverse health effects and maximize potential benefits. Widely used in Europe, Canada, and other areas of the world, HIAs are emerging as a popular policy-planning tool in the United States.
The grants will support projects in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Texas that are working to ensure that health is considered in sectors in which it is not traditionally factored into decision making. The assessments will look at the likely health effects of pending decisions such as budget modifications being considered by a state legislature, a plan for the construction of a light-rail system, and a land-use proposal to redevelop an abandoned factory site. The grantees are the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, ISAIAH, the Kohala Center, the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, Texas Southern University, and the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health.
"These pioneering projects will provide many valuable lessons for other leaders in sectors that may not focus on health but produce policies and programs that have clear ramifications," said Health Impact Project director Aaron Wernham. "Health impact assessments can be used to weigh complex proposals and help decision makers craft solutions that avoid unforeseen effects and create conditions that give people every opportunity to lead healthy lives."
For more information on the grantees and their projects, visit the Health Impact Project Web site.