Smart syringes take a poke at unsafe injections
A 2014 study sponsored by WHO, which focused on recent available data estimated that in 2010, up to 1.7 million people were infected with hepatitis B and 315,000 with hepatitis C, and as many as 33,800 with HIV through an unsafe injection.
As of February 23, 2015, WHO is calling for worldwide use of “smart” syringes. Smart syringes will have features that prevent their reuse, which include plungers that break after initial injection and clips that prevent retraction. Although the new syringes are not as cost effective as those that lack the safety features (about double the price), in the long run the smart syringes are still less expensive compared to the cost for treatment in an HIV or hepatitis case.
The World Health Organization is calling on manufacturers to begin and/or expand the production of smart syringes. BD and Unilife are included in the more than 70 manufacturers that are producing the smart syringes. However, WHO restates that they are not an implementation agency and that the WHO does not procure syringes for their programs. The WHO is relying on donors to help support the transition to the new smart syringes. Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of WHO HIV/AIDS Department, says, “Adoption of safety-engineered syringes is absolutely critical to protecting people worldwide from becoming infected with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. This should be an urgent priority for all countries.???
Smart syringes could also help prevent against accidental needle sticks and consequent exposure to infection in healthcare workers. There are some syringes being produced with features to help protect healthcare workers. A sheath or hood slides over the needle after the injection is completed to protect the user from being injured and potentially exposed to an infection.
The WHO is urging countries to transition to the new smart syringes and hopes that, by 2020, most countries are exclusively using the new syringes.
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