Strategies and incentives for enhancing the application of health impact assessment (HIA) in Nigeria: a view from those who should know
In consonance with the paradigm shift from curative to more preventive healthcare, there has been an increasing application of health impact assessment (HIA) in many developed countries. However, progress towards the integration of HIA into public policy in many developing countries has been comparatively very slow. This article is a primary research to evaluate the barriers and motivational factors; and to proffer effective strategies and incentives for enhancing the application of HIA in health and development policies in Nigeria. Semi-structured questionnaires were designed and primarily disseminated online to a random sample of health and non-health professionals, public service workers, policy-makers and business entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Additional questionnaires were also hand-delivered. Inferential statistics was used in the analysis of the 510 responses that were received. The findings show that 71% of the respondents had never heard about HIA, and 80.7% of those who were aware of HIA had not received any form of HIA training. However, 86.6% of the informed group strongly agreed that HIA is a necessary tool for effective public health delivery, indicating a high level of motivation and expectations about the contributions that HIA can make towards improving public health in Nigeria. It is therefore important to raise the level of awareness and training of HIA practitioners, and also political commitment for HIA. Similarly, the HIA process should be people-centred, emphasise on corporate social responsibilities and also focus on the determinants of communicable diseases in order to be relevant and sustainable in Nigeria.