Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City arrived in Vietnam today (March 23), and is visiting programmes supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies’.
Through the World Health Organization (WHO) and associated partners, Bloomberg
Philanthropies’ have been instrumental in supporting programmes on two major public
health issues, tobacco and road safety, which combined, claim an estimated 55,000 lives
in Vietnam every year (40,000 for tobacco and a further 15,000 from road trauma).
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support to road safety in Vietnam is part of a broader project
to facilitate national governments’ uptake of road safety action in 10 low and middle income countries. – known as the Road Safety in Ten Countries (RS10) project1. These countries collectively represent approximately 50 per cent of the 1.2 million deaths that occur on the world’s roads each year, costing countries between 1 and 3 per cent of their gross national product.
Launched in 2010, this project is aligned with the goals of the United Nations Decade of Action on Road Safety (2011–2020) 2, which aims to stem the expected increase in road traffic deaths over the coming decade.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has made a substantial financial contribution in support of accomplishing these objectives.
In Vietnam the RS10 programme is led by the National Traffic Safety Committee (NTSC) and has a dual focus of reducing drinking and driving and increasing the use of good quality helmets among motorcyclists.
Alcohol impairment is a major cause of road traffic injuries in Vietnam, with an estimated 36 per cent of those injured as a result of road traffic crashes exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit.
As Dr Graham Harrison, acting WHO Representative to Vietnam explains, “The drink–
driving programme in Vietnam is based on international evidence which shows that
legislation and enforcement, coupled with hard-hitting public awareness campaigns, can
be extremely effective in reducing alcohol-related road deaths”.
RS10 also aims to improve the quality of helmets being worn by motorcyclists: while helmet wearing rates in the country are high following the 2007 helmet law, the proportion of those wearing helmets meeting the national standard remains low, at about 20 per cent, greatly reducing the potential to prevent traumatic brain injuries in the event of a crash.