We saw five or six ambulances arriving at the emergency ramp of the main hospital in Hanoi, all with road traffic victims, during a half hour stretch. In one of the hot and airless wards lay a young girl who had been hit as a pedestrian on the road. Her foot was to be amputated. She didn't really comprehend what was happening to her.
Make Roads Safe ambassador Michelle Yeoh spoke at a well attended press conference in Hanoi yesterday and got a lot of media coverage, across Vietnam and the wider region, for the campaign to get motorcycle helmets on children's heads.
She got across the urgency of the problem which was revealed so starkly by our meeting with LeXuan Han's mother and Michelle made a compelling case for both the Vietnamese government and parents individually to act. Michelle also met with a senior government road safety official, Bui Huynh Long, chief of the National Traffic Safety Committee and architect of Vietnam's tremendous success with adult helmets, who is clearly committed to saving lives.
Before the press conference, hosted at the World Bank, we participated in a 'Helmets for Kids' event, organised by the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF). Their impressive and essential operation channels commercial and donor funds to buy helmets for young children, whole schools at a time. Yesterday 1500 children recieved helmets. Today I attended another HFK event where 1700 children were given helmets. AIPF follows up with regular school liaison, monitoring and refresher events to make sure the children keep wearing their helmets once the novelty has worn off. This is a non-profit model that could - and should - be working and saving lives in many more countries.