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09/06/08 : Vietnam Hosted the 1st HIA Preparatory Workshop

NHCO / Story of the Month  / 09/06/08 : Vietnam Hosted the 1st HIA Preparatory Workshop

Vietnam Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health welcomed the visit of HIA 2008 Conference organizing committee and agreed to be a coordinating body for academic papers submission from Vietnam.

HIA 2008 Conference to be held in December this year is not a one-time event, but a capacity building process towards an establishment of the HIA mechanism in Asia and Pacific region, particularly in Southeast Asia. It is aware that policies from one country can shape trans-boundary impact in other countries. Hydropower development in China on the Lanchang Jiang (Upper Mekong) is an example that causes both positive and negative impact in Mekong region countries. Regional HIA mechanism plays a crucial role that provides decision makers with information about how any policy, programme or project may affect the health of people as well as environment, economy and social well-being.

HIA 2008 Conference takes this opportunity to empower people and strengthen the multi-sectoral collaboration in producing healthy public policies. National Health Commission Office was invited as the HIA2008’s host to the 1st rotating preparatory workshop on Monday 9 June 2008. The workshop aims to prepare contributing papers to the conference and strengthen its network between Thailand and Vietnam. The next visit of NHCO and HIA2008 Organizing Committee will be in Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos PDR respectively. Apart from NHCO, Thailand Healthy Public Policy Foundation (HPPF), as the HIA2008 Organizing Committee, was attended the workshop. The HPPF’s representative, Mr. Suphakij Nuntavorakarn, started the presentation with the overview of health system reform in Thailand followed by HIA development. Health system in Thailand has shifted from disease oriented to well-being oriented. This new approach leads the healthy system to the healthy public policy, which is far beyond medical treatment according to the conventional framework.

To formulate the healthy public policy, HIA is one of the reliable and empowering tools that Thailand has adopted and developed as founded at Department of Disease Control, Department of Health and Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning. Nonetheless, communities are also trained to carry out HIA at their communities. HIA in Thailand is not merely a project base, but initiated at a community level up to a strategy level. HIA in Vietnam has been conducting actively under the supervision of Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Health since 2006. Recently, Vietnam Environmental Protection Agency (VEPA) has finished a guideline on HIA in EIA which is now in the process of approving. Vietnam National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health (NIOEH) presented the finding on Environmental and Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) in a chemical industrial zone in Viettri City, while Vietnam National Institute of Labour Protection (NILP) examined environmental and health impact in a copper foundry village, Tong Xa city.

Vietnam has come to a close relation with Thai agencies since the 3rd HIA international workshop “Global and Regional Challenges for Health Society” in 2006. The workshop was co-organized by Thailand Health Public Policy foundation, Thai Health Promotion Foundation, Thailand Health System Research Institute and Khon Kaen University. The future collaboration between the 2 countries was discussed during the workshop. Dr. Nguyen Duy Bao, Acting Director of Vietnam National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health (NIOEH), proposed to have an expert-exchange programme on HIA, so that the knowledge and experience in this field had been shared and developed. NIOEH agreed to be a coordinating body to collect the abstract of academic papers from Vietnamese agencies and submit them to HIA2008 Conference.