A 2014 study sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), which focused on the most recent available data, estimated that in 2010 up to 1.7 million people were infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV), up to 315 000 with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and as many as 33 800 with HIV through an unsafe injection. While in the developed world, most injections are administered safely, injection practices worldwide vary widely, with reuse of injection equipment, poor handling of needles after use and informal cleaning still posing a problem in some regions.
This is nothing new. The WHO launched its WHO Injection Safety Programme and the Safe Injection Global Network (SIGN) back in 2000 already, in a bid to achieve safe and appropriate use of injections throughout the world. At the start of the programme, it was believed that around 40 % of injections were administered with reused injection equipment, contributing to millions of new HBV and HCV cases and hundreds of thousands of cases of HIV.
The WHO initiative led to the development of many new designs of syringes with features claimed to disable the syringe after its first use. However, not all of them fulfilled the single-use objective. ISO had already published standards for traditional types of syringes without auto-disabling features, so it seemed only natural that it should extend the series with new standards for syringes with auto-disabling features.
ISO’s expert committee on injection systems recognized that reuse of syringes wasn’t the only risk to address. The infection by accidental needle-stick injury was a very real health hazard, especially for healthcare providers and people who come into contact with needles or other sharps2) in medical facilities or public places.
By Clare Naden