HIA policy

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Ministerial Group on Public Health (MGPH) has led the development of the Investing for Health Strategy [2002]. The MGPH is made up of officials from the eleven Departments of the Northern Ireland Executive.

  • Investing for Health (2002)
    Investing for Health is the health strategy for Northern Ireland.   It contains a framework for action to improve health and well-being and reduce health inequalities which is based on partnership working amongst government departments, public bodies, local communities, voluntary bodies, district Councils and social partners.

    Chapter 19 covers HIA and outlines the development of a programme for HIA that will inlcude capacity building, tool development, quality assurance, pilot programme and a network of HIA practitioners.

Republic of Ireland

Policy commitments and objectives are included in the following documents:

  • Quality and Fairness: A health system for you [2001]
    Quality and Fairness is the health strategy for the Republic of Ireland. The first objective under National Goal No.1: Better health for everyone, is that ‘the health of the population is at the centre of public policy’. The strategy states that ‘many agencies and government departments whose role may appear more peripheral or indirect have a vital contribution to make in achieving an integrated strategic approach to promoting and improving the health of the whole population. This objective is concerned with ensuring a joint approach, co-ordinated under one coherent strategy, to maximise the impact on health of existing policies, structures and initiatives.'  HIA is expected to play an important role in promoting this joint approach.

    Objective 1.1 in the strategy states that HIA 'will be introduced as part of the public policy development process. The health impact assessment process identifies the factors, which have a potential impact on health. Accordingly, it is a means for all sectors to determine the effects of their policies and actions on health and it has the potential to bring greater transparency to the decision-making process by clarifying the nature of trade-offs in policy.' It states that the Department of Health and Children will develop the "procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, programme or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of the population and the distribution of those effects within the population" and will have a key role in supporting other departments and agencies in carrying out health impact assessments.

  • Better Health for Everyone, A Population Health Approach for Ireland (Chief Medical Officer Annual Report (2001)
    This report has a chapter that outlines the role HIA will play in the population health approach in Ireland.  The report states that “it is important that the development of HIA is properly coordinated and supported by high-level government commitment.”  It also states that a new Population Health Division within the Department of Health and Children will have responsibility for implementing health proofing policies. 

  • Review of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy, Ireland (2001)
    The Review of the National Anti Poverty Strategy [2001], states as its objective ‘to reduce the inequalities that exist in the health of the population by making health and health inequalities central to public policy, by acting on the social factors influencing health, by improving access to health and personal social services for people who are poor or socially excluded, and by improving the information and research base in relation to health status and service access for these groups.’ [4.6.2]. A multi-sectoral approach to health and health impact assessment’ is included in the overall policy approach [4.6.4]. This is developed in sub-section 4.6.5 Key Policy Actions and Measures which states that:

    ‘It should be government policy that all relevant sectors recognise and accept their responsibility for health by developing multi-sectoral working and the adoption of Health Impact assessment by 2007.