In February this year, the World Health Organization launched a global campaign to eradicate unsafe injection practices. It is estimated by the WHO that dirty needles cause around 1.3 million deaths worldwide each year. In 2010, unsafe injections led to 33,800 cases of HIV, 1.7 million cases of hepatitis B, and 315,000 cases of hepatitis C.
The new guidelines aim to ensure safer injection practices by preventing multiple use of the same syringe. The success of the program is expected to reduce healthcare bills around the world by a large degree. The WHO has urged all nations to adopt safety-engineered syringes or “smart needles” exclusively by 2020. The global disposable syringes market has got a shot in the arm with this latest development. The overall market is estimated to be worth US$7.5 billion by 2022.
Auto-Disable Syringes: Answer to Unsafe Injections
Reusable syringes were advocated by the WHO for some time as part of vaccination programs. However, opinions changed after a study carried out in 2000, which reflected that around 40% of the 16.7 billion injections carried out that year across the globe were unsafe. Risky injection practices had a major role in the rising number of patients affected by blood-borne infections. Peter Piot, the microbiologist behind the discovery of Ebola, has attributed the reuse of syringes in West African nations as a major cause of the spread of the disease last year.Adoption of auto-disable (AD) syringes is the best solution to eliminate the practice of using re-usable syringes. The WHO’s campaign to adopt safe injection practices has brought much relief to Marc Koska, the inventor of the non-usable K1 auto-disable syringe , who has campaigned for the last thirty years for the use of these types of syringes. Koska is confident that demand for these “smart syringes” will rise, with 13 manufacturers in countries such as Indonesia, China, and Turkey. Koska, through his charity called Safepoint, has targeted developing nations where the usage of re-usable syringes is rampant.
Mechanism of Auto-Disable Syringe to Ensure Safety
An auto-disable syringe has a small ring inside the barrel, which lets the specifically adapted plunger to move in only one direction. The plunger automatically locks in place after one complete injection. If forced, it gets broken, thereby making the syringe useless. The three factors that make auto-disable syringe suitable for use:
- Safety: The mechanism of the auto-disable syringe only allows one-time use and thus prevents infections caused due to reuse of syringes. Despite this innovation, the syringe is used in the same way as a normal syringe and requires no additional training for medical workers.
- Affordability: The price of an auto-disable syringe is the same as a regular syringe, an important factor in poor regions of the world, where reuse of syringes is the most rampant.
- Availability: Auto-disable syringes are manufactured on the same equipment used for standard syringe production, thereby increasing the availability of the syringes.
Demand for Auto-Disable Syringes to Benefit Manufacturers in Disposable Syringes Market
Manufacturers in the global disposable syringes market have benefitted majorly from the WHO initiatives. The WHO is urging manufacturers to expand the production of auto-disable syringes as early as possible. After the remarkable success of polio eradication and hand-wash awareness programs, the WHO’s initiative to introduce auto-disable syringes will save around US$850 million worldwide from reduced treatment cost of diseases caused by unsafe injection practices.