Health Impact Assessments (HIA) are applied to draft proposals and use a collection of tools to predict the health impacts and consequences, to ascertain whether positive impacts can be amplified and negative impacts mitigated against.
The Dunedin City Council (DCC) and Public Health South (PHS) undertook an HIA of a proposed extension of the 30km/hour speed limit zone in Dunedin’s city centre. The work was partly funded from the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) ‘Learning by Doing’ fund and undertaken between January and June 2010.
The HIA project team formulated several sets of recommendations based on evidence gathered during the HIA process. These recommendations were for specific agencies – DCC, Otago Regional Council and MoH. Recommendations included operational, engineering and policy measures.
An obligatory evaluation of the HIA process was undertaken. Data collection methods for the evaluation were: participant observation and evaluations of workshops, documentary analysis and interviews with key stakeholders.
Key strengths identified through this evaluation included the quality of information brought to the process, particularly through the Literature Review; and the forging of a positive working relationship between the DCC and PHS.
Key issues were identified that could be applied to help improve HIA for future projects when the process is new for an organisation. These included assigning an external mentor, providing clear and succinct communication guidelines and evaluating when or if HIA is applicable to a project in view to size and resources available.
The MoH “Learning by Doing” fund enabled an inexperienced project team from both organisations to understand the HIA process and identify when this process would be applicable in future projects. This project resulted in significant learning experiences and strengthening of individual skill sets for project team from the DCC and PHS.