NMHEP trains residents and community groups on how to make a more compelling and impactful case when engaging policymakers on issues they care most about. One critical tool that we provide and teach how to use is a tool called the Health Impact Assessment (HIA). Through the HIA, advocates and residents learn how to collect and utilize data that can drive and influence policy change, and hold legislators more accountable. The HIA has proven to be an effective means to give voice to and empower community members, and produced the following results:
- HIA has helped build leadership. Community members learn how to navigate the political system. They become more knowledgeable about decision making processes, and become more comfortable with speaking before decision makers.
- HIA has led to community demands and recommendations being adopted by decision makers.
- HIA has helped bring different groups together that previously did not have good relationships.
A forthcoming report, by New Stories to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, highlights HIA as a best practice. The NMHEP members are noted as STARS as communities coming together to inform policies to improve health via HIA. The report notes that what is particularly relevant in New Mexico is that HIA’s are being used by enough people in enough communities that they are creating a common vocabulary for action and learning.
Building on our previous HIA efforts, in 2015, the NMHEP team in partnership with Human Impact Partners implemented a HIA Train the Trainers Program to build the capacity of New Mexico community members to serve as HIA TA providers. Therefore, knowledge and expertise will be more sustainable and can be passed onto more advocates at the local level well into the future. To our knowledge, this is the first HIA Train the Trainer Program in the country. A cohort of three New Mexico HIA technical assistance providers from Dona Ana, San Miguel, and San Juan counties will continue to provide technical assistance to three HIA teams in 2017.