Injection safety

Unsafe injection practices -a plague of many health care systems

-A safe injection does no harm. Yet breaks in infection control practices are common, causing severe infections which put human lives at risk.
-Re-use of syringes and needles in the absence of sterilization exposes millions of people to infection.
-Syringes and needles are often just rinsed in a pot of tepid water between injections.The proportion of injections given with syringes or needles re-used without sterilization ranges from 1.5% to 69.4% in transitional and developing countries.

Injections - a dangerous engine of disease

Unsafe injection practices are a powerful engine to transmit bloodborne pathogens, including hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Because infection with these viruses initially presents no symptoms, it is a silent epidemic. However, the consequences of this silent epidemic are increasingly recognized.

Hepatitis B virus

- HBV is highly infectious and causes the heaviest burden of disease: unsafe injections account for 33% of new HBV infections in developing and transitional countries for a total of 21.7 million people infected each year.

Hepatitis C virus

- Unsafe injections are the most common cause of HCV infection in developing and transitional countries, causing two million new infections each year and accounting for 42% of cases.

Human immunodeficiency virus

Globally nearly 2% of all new HIV infections are caused by unsafe injections with a total of 96 000 people infected annually. In South Asia up to 9% of new cases may be caused in this way. Such proportions can no longer be ignored.

Fear of HIV is a powerful motivation to engage patients and healthcare workers in safer injection practices.