Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) have been traditionally utilized in the context of less developed countries where communicable diseases are prevalent and where major projects, such as those related to the extractives industry can have a significant impact. However in a European context impacts from projects are less likely to result in major negative health impacts in part due to the health protection and regulatory context that prevails in the EU. This may call into question the need to conduct HIAs in a European context.

Drawing on project experience and publicly available research, this paper presents a case for HIA to be undertaken in a European context and demonstrates the value it offers in aiding our understanding of the way in which project impacts can affect public health. The paper will identify the benefits of the HIA in providing a rational framework and process for the identification and evaluation of health impacts that are relevant in the socioeconomic, environmental and cultural context and for developing evidence-based recommendations to inform health protection decision-making. The paper will conclude that whilst the health profile may vary across regions and global geographies, human health and well-being can be influenced by positive and negative effects of major projects. Health impact assessment is a requirement of projects funded by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and of the Equator Principles and guidance has been produced by IPIECA for its members. Outside the oil and gas sector HIA is also widely practiced by the mining sector.

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