South-East Asia legislators offer new focus on road safety action

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Legislators presented the successes and challenges in the region.
Legislators presented the successes and challenges in the region.
The network had frank and open discussions about how best to meet developing challenges.
The network had frank and open discussions about how best to meet developing challenges.

The inaugural meeting of the South-East Asia Regional Network for Road Safety Legislators took place in Bangkok on 9 August to share experiences and address region-specific road safety issues.

South-East Asia has the second most dangerous roads in the world. The combination of low- and middle-income countries, where 90% of all road deaths occur, and the highest motorcycle use creates a specific set of challenges which are shared by many countries across the region. The new network is one of a series across the world, linking together parliamentarians alongside road safety specialists and NGOs to improve health outcomes for millions.

The Global Network is co-ordinated by the WHO and supported by the FIA Foundation. Its goal is to provide a global platform for legislators serving in parliaments to share priorities and exchange best practice in road death and injury prevention, supporting the aims of the SDGs.

Thai Senator Surachai Liengboonlertchai opened the event as keynote speaker, alongside Dr Thaksaphon Thamarangsi, Director of the Health Promotion Policy Research Center from the WHO South-East Asia Regional Office and Evelyn Murphy of the WHO Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. Attendees included members of parliament from across the entire region as well as specialists addressing road safety and injury prevention at a national, regional and global level.

The event was hosted to five moderated panel sessions to explore and discuss the regional context, shared challenges and opportunities from a policy and practical application, and how to accelerate action achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Legislator speakers included Mrs Mean Meanvy from Cambodia, and Dr Harsha De Silva, Sri Lankan Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution discussing successful projects while Senator Surachai Liengboonlertchai introduced potential new legislation for Thailand.

Other speakers included FIA Foundation partners iRAP, AIP Foundation and Global NCAP, alongside academic and development speakers including Dr David Logan, Monash University, and Mr Ishtiaque Ahmed, UNESCAP.

Following the talks, legislators voted to appoint Surachai Liengboonlertchai as the first Chair of the Regional Network with Dr Harsha de Silva as Vice Chair

Speaking at the event, Dr Thaksaphon Thamarangsi said: “The roles of Members of Parliaments are as architectural engineers and quality control as we design laws and determine budgets, monitor the implementation of laws, as well as raising awareness among the public. Members of Parliament, therefore, play a crucial role in road safety. It is WHO’s privilege to facilitate the formation of the ASEAN-WHO South-East Asia Regional Network for Road Safety Legislators.”

Kate Turner, Media and Public Affairs Manager of the FIA Foundation, said: “Hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of serious injuries occur on the region’s roads each year. Catalysing action on road safety can only be achieved if parliamentarians are committed to both legislation for safer streets and to the enforcement to make that legislation reality. The FIA Foundation is proud to support the Legislators Network to connect and unify policy-makers to stand up and make the case for safer streets.”