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National Health Commission introduced new HIA rules to reduce conflicts on health impacts

The National Health Commission endorsed a new set of regulations and procedures for health impact assessment (HIA), which allows concerned organizations to apply them by themselves that creates participation and reduces conflicts in the society. It is aimed at decreasing the health impacts of projects, plans and policies at all levels on the health of people and communities. Despite the improvement of regulations and procedures, the key is to really impose them.

The National Health Commission made the endorsement in its meeting at Government House on May 19, 2016. Deputy Prime Minister Narong Pipatanasai chaired the meeting and also presented there were Social Development and Human Security Minister Adul Sangsingkeo, Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, and national health commissioners from other organizations.

Adm Narong said the National Health Commission approved the 2nd Announcement of the National Health Commission on Regulations and Procedures for the Assessment of Health Impacts of Public Policies. The approval is in compliance with the duty of the commission under Section 25(5) of the National Health Act. It is an amendment to the 1st Announcement of the National Health Commission on Regulations and Procedures for the Assessment of Health Impacts of Public Policies that has taken effect since 2009. The amendment is intended to keep up with the situations and the social contexts that are changing rapidly.

The new regulations and methods for health impact assessment are not a tool to endorse projects but an instrument to promote the participation of all concerned parties. They will reduce conflicts resulting from the health impacts of plans, projects and policies. Joint decisions will lead to acceptance. This is in accordance with the government’s policy to work for the public interest. I hope that all central and local organizations will observe the regulations under this announcement for the utmost benefits. Besides, communities can also apply them for their assessment of health impacts.

“The new regulations were carefully designed. However, the key is to impose them so that health impact assessment will result in the information which can be used in time,” said Dr Piyasakol, the health minister.

Dr Wiput Phuncharoen, chairman of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Commission, said the new regulations and procedures for health impact assessment were intended especially to create understanding on the principles and processes of participation by all parties.

“The new announcement is different from the first one for several aspects and I believe that it will improve work. It supports the development of the regulations that will suit the different levels and kinds of policies, plans and projects. It emphasizes multidisciplinary work and knowledge and requires information and facts from sciences, technologies and the society, especially from the civil sector. The information will be communicated in the way that all parties will easily understand. Importance is given to setting up questions for objective of assessment in each stage. Monitoring mechanisms will be clearly set. Work and coordination will be delegated to relevant organizations and will not be centralized at the National Health Commission Office.”

The improved regulations and procedures are aimed at creating proactive HIA. It is possible to invite all parties to jointly create an assessment process even before a policy or project takes shape. Academic and social information can be compiled so that solutions will be proposed and concerned parties can come up an agreement. The new HIA regulations can also be applied to the projects that have been implemented and had health impacts on communities. This is for concerned parties to jointly work out next steps toward their sustainable development and co-existence.

Dr Amphon Jindawatthana, secretary general of the National Health Commission, said the National Health Commission Office would quickly have the new announcement on the regulations and procedures published in the Royal Gazette so that they will take effect. Pending that, the commission agreed to continue to impose regulations and methods under the first announcement.

Source: www.hfocus.org on 2016-05-24 16:32
Photo credit: http://www.khi.org/

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