Technologies and training can ensure safe injections
More and more people in developing countries are getting the vaccinations they need to safeguard their health, but clean needle practices still haven’t caught up. At least 50 percent of injections in developing countries are unsafe, and in some places that number is as high as 70 percent.
Reused needles can increase the risk of HIV, hepatitis B, and other infections to patients. In addition, when dirty needles are not safely disposed of, people harvest them from the garbage and resell them, and children even play with them in garbage dumps.
Since 1980, PATH has developed technologies for safe needle disposal and worked with countries to get the supplies they need to make injections safe. We’ve invented “autodisable,” one-time-use syringes that are now in clinics in many countries, and we’ve helped to pioneer needle removal devices that isolate dirty needles in secure containers. We also collaborate in many countries with ministries of health to train health workers and implement policies for managing medical waste.
Vaccinations are meant to protect people’s health, but if they are given with unclean syringes, patients may actually be harmed. We want to make sure these efforts toward better health stick—without the risk of infection.
Photo: Mark Clifford.