WASHINGTON - Today, the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, announced a call for proposals for grants to conduct health impact assessments (HIAs). The funding will enable awardees to develop an HIA, which is a study that can help policy makers and community members identify and address the potential, and often-overlooked, health implications of policy proposals in a broad range of sectors, including agriculture, transportation and development.
The Health Impact Project will fund up to eight initiatives to conduct HIAs, which will identify how policy proposals will impact health at the local, tribal or state levels. Grants will range from $25,000 to $125,000 and will support government agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations. Grantees will receive training, mentoring and technical assistance from the Health Impact Project and leading HIA experts. Applicants may submit a brief proposal through June 1, 2011.
“Considering health when planning new projects, policies and programs makes good sense,” said Aaron Wernham, M.D., director of the Health Impact Project. “Many of the most urgent medical problems facing the nation—such as diabetes, asthma, obesity and injuries—are shaped by conditions in the places where we live, work and play. By factoring health into new laws and projects, for instance the building of a major roadway, the planning of a city’s growth or the development of a school curriculum, these grants will help policy makers capitalize on hidden opportunities to improve wellbeing, save on healthcare-related costs and use limited resources more wisely.”
HIAs also provide practical solutions that help maximize the benefits of a program or policy decision. For example, in San Francisco, an HIA for a new housing development resulted in several measures to protect residents from nearby road pollution. In Alaska, an HIA helped resolve a longstanding disagreement between community and government stakeholders and led to widely accepted revisions to oil and gas leasing plans, and several new protections for air quality and human health.
Investments to date include 13 demonstration projects, training and technical assistance for a total of over $1.5 million. Currently, assessments are identifying and addressing health implications of policy proposals including farm-to-school food legislation in Oregon, energy development in Colorado and Kentucky, smart-metering technology for electric utilities in Illinois, regional land-use and transportation planning in Georgia and the state budget in New Hampshire. Results are expected in the coming months.