Vietnam Impact Investing Protocol – Helmet Crisis

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Vietnam Impact Investing Protocol

VietnamAdvisors is a firm believer that you can do well by doing good. While Vietnam is a country of enormous opportunities, it is also a country in need of tremendous social and economic aid.  This is why it is our policy to provide pro-bono ads to qualifying Vietnam related non-profits doing amazing work.  We are also strong believers that Vietnam impact investing can be a mechanism to help solve many problems.  In this issue of our Vietnam Impact Investing Protocol, we would like to highlight the work being done by our friends at AIP Foundation.

The Helmet Crisis in Vietnam

By Frances Massing, AIP Foundation

February 3, 2016.

AIP Foundation is a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Vietnam with offices in Hanoi, HCMC, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and Chengdu. For more than 16 years AIP Foundation has been delivering effective road safety programs to help prevent road injuries and fatalities in low and middle-income countries.

In Vietnam, one of our signature programs, *Helmets for Kids*, which was launched by former President Bill Clinton in 2000, combines access to quality helmets with road safety education to promote safe behavior among young road users. Through funding support from numerous partners the program has reached high-risk school children and teachers throughout Vietnam. Since 2002, more than 500,000 helmets have been distributed to *Helmets for Kids* project schools.

In 2010, road traffic crashes caused an estimated 22,000 deaths in Vietnam, more than tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS.  Approximately 2,000 children die due to road injury each year, making it the second leading cause of death among Vietnamese children ages 5–14.

Road injury costs Vietnam more than 3 billion USD annually, nearly 3% of its GDP.

Though the toll of road crashes outweighs other public health issues, such as HIV/AIDS, which took 14,000 Vietnamese lives in 2009, international development assistance for road injury prevention from 2011 to 2012 is estimated at only 2 million USD. By comparison, the Global Fund, which channels 20% of total aid for HIV/AIDS, provided a 2011-2012 grant of 49 million USD to the Ministry of Health to support HIV/AIDS prevention and care.

Motorcycles account for 95% of registered vehicles in Vietnam, and their users account for 75% of Vietnam’s road traffic fatalities.  Of these, nearly 78% are a result of head injury.  In 2006, motorcycle helmet use in Vietnam was less than 30% on average and 10% on city roads.  Helmet use tended to be higher on roads where use was compulsory. After the enactment of Resolution 32 in December 2007, helmet use immediately increased to 99%.

Helmet use among adults has since remained above 90%, and motorcycle-related fatalities per vehicle have decreased by 46%. Over the seven years following the law, AIP Foundation estimates that approximately 3 billion USD were saved, 459,371 road injuries were avoided, and 26,754 fatalities were prevented in Vietnam.

Reported and projected road traffic fatalities in Vietnam from 2003 – 2014

Despite high helmet use rates among adults and evidence that helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and death by 42% in a crash, only 18% of children across Vietnam’s major cities wore helmets in March 2011, and likely less in smaller cities and rural areas. From 2011-2013, AIP Foundation and its partners developed and implemented a comprehensive campaign, including communications, enforcement, and capacity building, and incentives for change to increase helmet use among children in Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City. Child helmet use across the three cities increased from 18% in March 2011 to 38% in March 2014, and significant changes were recorded in parents knowledge and attitude about the importance of putting a helmet on a child.

The campaign results also provided evidence for AIP Foundation to successfully advocate the Vietnam’s National Traffic Safety Committee (NTSC) to issue a National Child Helmet Action Plan for all 63 provinces during 2015. Average helmet wearing rates increased from 38% across the three target cities in March 2014 to 68% in April 2015.  Hanoi experienced the greatest increase: from 23% in 2014 to 64% in 2015. In Danang, child helmet use increased from 37% to 72%, and in Ho Chi Minh City, the

rate increased from 48% to 67%.The next observation will take place in November 2015 to see the longer-term trend and the results across 12 other target provinces.

For those who do wear helmets, quality is still a major concern. Substandard helmets are estimated to account for anywhere between 22% and 80% of those on Vietnam’s roads.  Some evidence suggests that motorcyclists wearing substandard helmets could be at higher risk of severe head injuries than even those without any helmet at all.  Further, WHO reports that 8% of those motorcyclists in Vietnam who wear helmets are doing so incorrectly.

Pedestrians account for 15% of fatalities in Vietnam, second only to those among motorcyclists.  Research on pedestrian injury in Vietnam, compared to other road users, is limited, but AIP Foundation’s experience indicates that many children are walking to school, they are not walking safely, and significant numbers are involved in crashes.

A case study on pedestrian safety in Dong Nai Province found:

  • All pedestrian road traffic injury cases occurred among children ages 16 years and younger at the Provincial General Hospital.
  • At the local pediatric hospital, a quarter of road traffic injuries were pedestrians.
  • An estimated 5,900 to 7,800 primary students in the province were injured by a vehicle while walking to and from school in 2011.

Road user error is the leading cause of crashes in Vietnam. Of these crashes, speeding accounts for 25%. This can be attributed to infrastructure that has been improved for efficient transport of goods but not safety, allowing high speeds even in mixed traffic situations. Further to this, drivers’ mindsets have not evolved to adapt to the changes in infrastructure. Further physical improvements such as traffic signals and sidewalk pavement, as well as strict enforcement of traffic rules, are needed.

Vietnam’s road safety situation is undergoing new changes: cars are becoming increasingly popular in cities and government is investing in public transport with new metro systems in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City expected to begin operations by 2020.

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