Jul 13, 2010

Meetings with the Asia Injury Prevention Fdn

Billboard in Ho Chi Minh City
Billboard in Ho Chi Minh City

Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. In early January he visited the AIP Foundation offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as the Protec helmet manufacturing facility outside of Hanoi. His “Postcard” from the visit:

A motobike (or “xe om”), ubiquitous in Vietnam’s cities, cruises down the street carrying three passengers: Dad in the back, reaching around Mom to drive—she with their young daughter standing between her legs. The parents wear helmets but the daughter, not required to by law, does not. Cut in to the scene are snippets from their happy daily lives. The motobike approaches an intersection. A truck doesn’t stop. They’re hit and the little girl goes flying. The screen fades to black as you hear the parents frantically calling out for their daughter…and receiving no response. It is with powerful, award-winning videos depicting tragically common scenes like these that AIP Foundation helps change the perception of wearing helmets, for everyone, in Vietnam. Taking another angle, they also have billboards around town (like the one I saw in the attached picture) showing famous people in Vietnam wearing helmets.

Recognizing that all helmets are not created equal, AIP Foundation produces helmets itself through a separate company called Protec. The design takes into account feedback from riders and common complaints about helmets. At their manufacturing facility, where they mostly employ individuals with a physical disability (who otherwise have a very difficult time finding a job in Vietnam), I saw them doing extensive quality testing of their helmets and those of competitors. Unfortunately, the current law mandating helmets (for adults) does not specify the quality of the helmet. (A few weeks later in Thailand, which has a similar law, I even saw a Thai woman wearing an American football helmet!) The Protec design was faring better in the tests I saw than many of its competitors.

My time in Vietnam did not overlap with any of their trainings, but their account of progress thus far made it sound like the expansion of AIP Foundation efforts elsewhere through the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative will impact many lives. The analogy of a helmet as a vaccine against an ailment for which there is no cure (i.e. brain damage) is a powerful one—particularly when you consider that more people die each year from road accidents than malaria. I’m happy to see they’ve recently secured a permanent spot on GlobalGiving!

Testing Protec helmets vs. the competition
Testing Protec helmets vs. the competition
Protec helmets looked to be holding up much better
Protec helmets looked to be holding up much better

Links:

Jun 9, 2010

Milestone Acheivement: Decree 34

Mobile Education Unit that traveled to schools
Mobile Education Unit that traveled to schools

AIP Foundation works in schools to distribute helmets and increase education, develops campaigns to educate the general public, but also advocates for laws that keep road users safe. We helped develop helmet standards for children in Vietnam, one of three countries worldwide to have such legislation for children. Now, more and more children are wearing helmets in Vietnam due to a new legislative breakthrough.

In April, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed an amendment to Resolution 32, the mandatory helmet law passed in December 2007. All drivers and passengers on motorbikes from the age of six must wear a helmet properly under penalty of a fine from 20 May 2010. Adults carrying children without a helmet or without it properly buckled will be fined 100,000 – 200,000 VND – the equivalent of five to ten US dollars. Those driving in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi will suffer higher penalties than in the rest of the country.

The amendment includes several other road safety measures: increased fines for carrying more than one passenger over the age of fourteen; triple to quadruple the original fine for running red lights; double the original fine for driving the wrong way down a one-way street; and up to a 1.4 million VND, or approximately 75 US dollars, fine for drink driving.

Officials will monitor the increased penalty system in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi for 36 months in a pilot project, after which time officials may chose to extend the same fines to the rest of the country. The United Nations commended Vietnam for its continuing efforts to keep its citizens safe on the roads.

To increase the effectiveness of this legislation, AIP Foundation launched a new intervention that targeted parents’ education and awareness on child helmet use. On 18 and 19 May, mobile education units with trained staff visited twenty primary schools during lunch and after-school pick up times in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to distribute leaflets, speak with parents, and answer any questions about Decree 34 and child helmet use. Additionally, AIP Foundation plans to identify areas throughout the country with low child helmet use and will use this focused intervention to educate parents.

AIP Foundation staff also circulated a letter to the parents of all Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City primary schools involved in AIP Foundation programs requesting that parents pledge to put a helmet on their children every day before they get on a motorbike.

The supportive legislative environment in Vietnam is a boon to our "Give a Vietnamese child a helmet, save life". It gives AIP Foundation an opportunity to reach out to parents and teachers in a new way, and educate them on the laws the affect their lives. We will continue to focus on child helmet use, stay tuned for more information about our upcoming public awareness campaign.

Parents read about Decree 34 and child helmet use
Parents read about Decree 34 and child helmet use
Trained staff were available to answer questions
Trained staff were available to answer questions
Students during a school visit
Students during a school visit
 
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