Promoting Safe Injection Practices : The Challenge Ahead
Injections are one of the most common health care procedures in the world. Global estimates range between 12 billion-16 billion injections each year’. Most of the injections (90 to 95%) are given for therapeutic purposes and only 5 to 10% are given for immunization. It is estimated that worldwide every year a billion injections are given to women and children for immunization. Up to half of these injections are currently thought to be unsafe. Due to the sheer burden of injections and the coresponding magnitude of unsafe injections, the proportion of blood borne pathogen transmission is much larger than is due to unsafe blood transfusion. Unsafe injections are responsible for million cases of Hepatitis B and C and an estimated one-quarter of a million cases of HIV annually. Worldwide 8 to 16 million hepatitis B, 2.3 - 4.7 million hepatitis C and 80,000 - 1,60,000 HIV infections are estimated to occur yearly form reuse of syringes and needles without adequate sterilization2. In the less developed countries, the unsafe injection practices account for an estimated $ 535 million in health care costs and result in nearly 1.3 million deaths a year. In a developing country like India where unnecessary injections are common, the total burden of injections is estimated to be 3.7 billion injections per year3. Certain studies that have been carried out in India,along with anecdotal evidence point towards a large numbe- of unnecessary, inappropriate, unsafe injections and inadequate sharps waste management4 5. A high proportion of injections given in India for immunization are unsafe due to reuse of needles/ syringes. The popularity of curative injections remains high due to various factors influencing the behaviour of prescribers / injection givers as well as clients.