In spite of advances in medical care and health education, used syringes are still widely used posing severe threat to public health, regrets Niloufer Hospital superintendent Dr K Devaraj. For instance, 70 per cent of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C cases are caused due to used needle pricks. Dr Devaraj explains the importance of safe injection practices in a free-wheeling chat with Express.Excerpts
Are used syringes and needles still being used?
All good hospitals dispose of syringes after using once and follow safe injection practices. But even today, in most of the rural areas and clinics run by rural medical practitioners, unsafe injection practices are followed. Either out of ignorance or greed, the same injection is used many times. This is a very unhealthy practice which can pose severe dangers.
What are the risks of reused syringes?
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are the two major problems which occur due to unsafe injection practices. For instance, 60-70 per cent of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C cases occur due to unsafe needle pricks. AIDS is another problem which occurs due to the use of reused syringes.
How can we prevent this problem?
Auto disposable syringes are the best option. If auto disposable syringes are used, the hole of the needle automatically gets blocked after injecting. As a result, a medical practitioner cannot reuse it. There are also pre-filled syringes in which medicine is already filled. As soon as the injection is given, it has to be disposed of.
Are auto disposable syringes affordable?
The difference between auto disposable syringes and normal syringes will be just about one rupee. But when compared with the cost of treating blood-borne infections and accidental injuries due to needle pricks, it is worth investing in them. Already auto disposable syringes are used in immunisation programme.
What are the other safe injection practices?
Switching to injection devices with sharps (syringes, injection and blades) injury protection feature (SIPs), as opposed to devices without a sharps injury protection feature is another measure which we need to take as many people are suffering due to unsafe needle pricks. Caution should also be taken about overuse of injections for health conditions where oral formulations are available and recommended as the first line treatment.