Get to know Tran Bich Phuong, In Country Coordinator with GHAI in Vietnam.
You’ve been instrumental in moving forward road safety efforts in Vietnam. How did you come to work in road safety advocacy?
In 1999, I joined the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to promote an injury prevention initiative in Vietnam. It was started by the first US Ambassador to Vietnam, Pete Peterson. Road safety was the major component of the program. As the Program Officer then, my responsibility was to connect and to work with different relevant Vietnamese ministries including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Government Office and other relevant ministries and stakeholders to promote and advocate for relevant policies. With strong support and advocacy from the US Ambassador and others, the first Vietnam National Policy for Injury Prevention was adopted in 2001; it served as the foundation for other relevant legislation documents later on. In 2003, I continued working on the road safety program at The Atlantic Philanthropies (Foundation). Thanks to the financial support from The Atlantic to different projects and grantees made up of NGOs, enterprises, and governmental agencies in Vietnam, the Helmet Regulation was adopted in 2007. The adoption of the Helmet Regulation significantly changed Vietnameses’ awareness and behavior to wearing helmets when driving motorbikes. On the first day the regulation was in effect, more than 99 percent of motorbike riders wore helmets.
I found my current job with Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) online and I thought it fit me very much. Road safety has been a huge problem in Vietnam, costing many lives of people and creating burdens for society. Advocacy for stronger road traffic legislation was proven to be the best way to address traffic crashes and improve road safety. Programs such as the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety are really useful and in need; therefore, I wanted to join this effort where I can apply my experience working in the injury prevention field. After doing further research on the road safety program and GHAI organization, I decided that I would apply for it. I am thankful for the opportunity of being here, as a member of the GHAI family and working to improve road safety in Vietnam.
What is your favorite part of advocacy work?
My favorite part of policy advocacy work is it leads to significant and lasting changes to society and the large population. However, it requires bold investment, relevant expertise and often takes a long time that not all organizations can afford, and I am proud to be a part of it!
In addition, I appreciate the opportunities to work with and to learn from scientists, experts of different fields, governmental official, and politicians that the advocacy process involves. The knowledge, skills and experiences they bring toward changing and developing policies are enormous and precious that I admire very much!
What’s your best advice for advocates who are starting out?
I think the first thing advocates should do is to assess and understand the current political context, key stakeholders and partners, and the approval process of the policies that your program is advocating for. In this stage, it is important to identify the advocacy goals and understand your position in this process so that you could do things right and effectively. I also recommend advocates visit the websites of Bloomberg Philanthropies, GHAI, GRSP, and WHO while doing a little research on the programs, the approaches, policies of your organizations/partners. These websites provide you with a lot of useful information. Besides, they could learn a lot from their managers and colleagues, who are skillful, knowledgeable in policy advocacy and very helpful too.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I like reading, watching movies and traveling!