Over 16 billion injections are administered every year world wide. The syringes that are currently utilized can be reused multiple times, leading to over 2 million people being infected with diseases like hepatitis and HIV.
The world health organization (WHO), is recommending a switch to the single-use smart syringe that breaks once it has been used one time. The smart syringe technology allows for the needle to be retracted after use, or the plunger to be disabled, which prevents the user from reusing the syringe.
According the the WHO "This will hopefully help eliminate the 1.7 million new hepatitis B cases, the 300,000 hepatitis C cases and the 35,000 HIV cases every year, and all those we don't have figures for, such as Ebola and Marburg."
The cost for the standard syringe is about 3 cents, while the average cost of a smart syringe is 5 cents and the WHO considers this a "small increase". When you consider the 16 billion injections each year, this cost would certainly add up. But when you also factor in the cost of treatment for Hepatitis C there is no comparison.
In Nevada an outbreak of hepatitis C was traced to a physician who used the same syringe to administer anesthetic to several of his patients.
The WHO is requesting sheathed needles that prevent healthcare workers from accidentally sticking themselves, which occurs frequently in West Africa with doctors and nurses who are caring for Ebola patients.
Immunizations represents 10% of all injections administered annually and we are already using the non-reusable syringes for administrations of these vaccines. The 90% remaining are what the WHO is calling "curative injections".
The manufacturers will not completely phase out non-reusable syringes, because they will still be needed for drug-user exchange programs and some treatments which require multiple medications to be mixed in the syringe before administration.
As a healthcare worker, what do you think about the plan to switch to non-reusable syringes? I think, while non-reusable syringes are slightly more cumbersome than the regular ones, if they save lives and help healthcare workers avoid being accidentally stuck with a contaminated needle, then this is a positive change. Let us know your thoughts. Comment below.