Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been in place in many countries for over 40 years and has been successful in the prevention of many adverse environmental impacts from industrial development projects. However, studies have revealed that many EIAs have not given much, if any, consideration to the potential impacts of development projects on the health of the public.
Growing awareness of the need to give greater consideration to the impacts on human health resulted in the development of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) process in the late 1980s. Over subsequent years HIA has emerged as a credible process that considers both the positive and negative impacts, and can be conducted in parallel with the EIA process.
Health Impact Assessment as a concept has been discussed, promoted and practiced for over 20 years but is still not gaining the wide acceptance that many would have expected by now. Those involved in HIA appreciate that it can have enormous benefits in the prevention of ill-health and enhancement of well-being but the challenge is now to increase the awareness of the value of HIA among a wider range of professionals, politicians and the general public.
Jeff Spickett is Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health in the School of Public Health at Curtin University and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Impact Assessment. He is an Adjunct Professor appointment at Mahidol University in Thailand and is Visiting Professor at the Centre for Disease Control in China.
His research, which has been funded by many different agencies including NHMRC, ARC, ERDC and WHO, focuses on the exposures to environmental (including occupational) factors that impact on human health.
He has considerable experience working with international agencies such as WHO and ILO through research and consulting activities in most countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
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