During March in Vietnam, the Ministries of Transport, Public Security, Science & Technology, and Trade & Industry issued joint circular number 06/2013. The circular significantly strengthens and improves regulations related to motorcycle and bicycle helmet production, import, sales, and use. The issuance of this circular is expected to have a significant impact on road traffic injury and death in Vietnam and is due, in part, to the advocacy activities of the Vietnam Red Cross (VRC), Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The path of the advocay process must be carefully managed, engaging the right people with the right message. Since June 2012, the Vietnam Red Cross (VRC), with technical support, guidance and financial support provided by GRSP through the Bloomberg Philanthropies funded RS10 programme, actively advocated for the approval and issuance of the helmet circular.
Between June and September 2012, behind-the-scenes meetings were conducted with key personnel in the Transport Ministry’s legal department designed to sensitize those responsible for making recommendations to the Minister on helmet standards. Accessing and influencing these individuals was critical to both highlight the need for the new joint circular as well as to build support for it within this key ministry.
In October 2012, the VRC hosted a media workshop to train journalists on the need for improved helmet standards. Representatives from the Ministries of Transport and Public Security were also invited to attend. At this event, the VRC publicly called for the circular to be approved and WHO representatives presented on the need for stronger helmet standards. Subsequently, more than 20 stories were published in media on the topic.
In December 2012, the VRC and the National Traffic Safety Committee (NTSC) chaired a government workshop which included representatives from the four ministries responsible for approving the circular. At this workshop, the NTSC and VRC advocated for adoption of the circular and once again, representatives from the WHO presented on the need for stronger helmet standards. At the conclusion of the workshop, the four Ministries each made public commitments in favour of approving the circular.
With the issuance of the circular, attention now turns to implementation. In April, the VRC, with support from GRSP, will convene a meeting of representatives of the four ministries to develop a clear plan for rolling out the circular. VRC and GRSP expect to play a supporting role to the four ministries in implementing the joint circular.