Wei, Ziqing

School of Public Health

MPP

Brazil

Bloomberg’s Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS)

The Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) is working with a consortium of partners to improve road safety in 10 low- and middle-income cities around the world. Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety (BIGRS) is a five year (2015 – 2019) initiative to evaluate and implement proven interventions to reduce the burden of road traffic injuries. JH-IIRU is responsible for the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the interventions. 

Global Health Mentor/PI: Katharine Allen, PhD

I skipped the summer of 2016 because I arrived in Sao Paulo in its coldest season. Before my arrival, I had heard countless scary stories about robbery and gun violence in this city, let alone the disease that has frightened every public health professional – the Zika virus. But my experience taught me that if you really have the urge to go somewhere, go consult people from that place and ignore the exaggerated news from the media – the U.S. media in particular. Also, I got lucky that I worked at the medical campus of the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in a downtown area, which serves as one of the public transportation transitions for the city. So
violence, strikes, and virus were not a threat to me at all.

I worked on the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), a research and advocacy project sponsored by the Bloomberg Philanthropies on road safety in 10 cities worldwide. In August 2015, the mayor of Sao Paulo declared the policy on reducing the speed limit to 40 km/hour on all urban roads, with exception of some large arterials and urban highways. Sao Paulo’s effort was part of the partnership between the Sao Paulo government and the United Nations with the goal to reduce traffic fatalities by 50 percent by 2020. The first phase of my work was adjusting to the work environment and getting familiar with roadside data collection and coding. I read reports on six data collection locations in the past two rounds and the two new ones in the current round. In the meantime, I assisted my supervisor to print out the worksheets for data collection for the entire month and categorize them by risk factors for road safety, which are helmet use, seatbelt use, speed, and drinkingdriving. I created portfolios for each group that consisted of one page of observation guidance, one page of location facts, and 20 pages of blank worksheets to be filled with observed data. It seemed to be an easy work at the beginning but actually required practical skills. First, we had to check carefully with the schedule on what risk factors would be observed on what day and who would participate. Hence, we knew how many portfolios we should make and would be able to make a plan about how to distribute them. Because not all our collectors work in the lab, we had to find the most efficient way to send them out by the following week.

I faced challenges during the on-site observation. The collectors worked in pairs – one observed and said numbers in Portuguese, and the other wrote them down on the worksheets. So I had to master Portuguese quickly and even tried to communicate with federal police when we collaborated with them to test whether driver was under influence of alcohol. Both my Portuguese and multi-communication skills were significantly built up.

In my last week there, I used STATA to analyze all data collected in three rounds. Right now, I am aggregating the results to assist my American supervisor to write a report on road safety status in Sao Paulo. Through this research, I refined my data collection and analysis skills, achieved project management skills on-ground health interventions, and gained exposure to challenges in thriving in a fast-paced environment.

This experience encouraged me to start taking courses for the certificate in Injury and Violence Prevention in our school in the fall. It also helped me realize that public policy and injury prevention go hand in hand so I should take advantage of my degree to specialize in this area for my future career. In the long run, I plan to work in the UN body on global injury prevention. I’m very grateful for this opportunity. I became interested in Brazil when I was focusing on Chinese-Brazilian relations at college. So I was so excited to on my flights, which took me over thirty-two hours, that I couldn’t even fall asleep for one second. And I was so lucky to have the kindest and most efficient program coordinator, Dani Mayumi, as my Brazilian supervisor. I miss everything in Brazil, the lab, the Olympics, and the lovely faces I met in the summer.

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