ISLAMABAD     -   The Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said on Saturday the federal government had planned to introduce auto-disable syringes next year to prevent the spread of diseases through the repeated use of syringes.

In an interview with a private news channel, he said the Ministry of Health would make it mandatory to use auto-disable (AD) syringes at all government hospitals and private health centers to avoid further complications for citizens as re-use of an insulin pen needle could increase bacterial growth on the needle and could cause HIV infection to citizens.

“By the end of the first quarter of next year, we hope to completely remove disposable syringes from the private sector hospitals and replace them with auto-lock syringes,” he said, adding, “We have had comprehensive talks with the stakeholders, including manufacturers and importers on the subject.”

He said that taking notice of HIV outbreak in Larkana recently, the health ministry had launched an inquiry to ascertain the causes. “As a first step, the ministry immediately imposed a ban on the use of injections at clinics run by the general practitioners,” Mirza said, adding, “It emerged as a result of inquiry that reuse of syringes was the major cause of spread of viral diseases among children in Larkana.”

In order to put an end to this practice, Dr Mirza said, an injection safety committee and task force had been formed at the national level. “The task force has been working diligently over the past few months and plans to introduce auto-destruct syringes which could only be used once,” he informed.

Dr Zafar Mirza urged pharmacists to play their role in educating the masses on injection safety as well as the adverse reactions of drugs.

“Unsafe practices such as the reuse of disposable syringes has been identified as the main cause behind the HIV and the rise in Hepatitis B and C cases in other parts of the country as well,” he disclosed.

SAPM said that Ministry of Health was going to launch a massive media campaign to discourage administration of unnecessary injections in the coming months, adding, “We are also talking to provincial governments to stop procuring disposable syringes for public hospitals.” He said that concerted efforts were needed to combat this challenge to save coming generations.

Mirza stressed the need for cutting down the use of injections and improving hygiene protocols at all medical facilities, including private clinics. He said same syringes should not be used for more than one patient even if the needle is changed.          Mirza said the government was spending millions of rupees on facilitating patients with Hepatitis C and AIDS and introducing new ways in the field of medicine.

Terming 95 percent of injections in the country unnecessary, Mirza informed that Pakistan was among the leading countries where a person on an average gets eight to nine injections per year. He said it was a very important public health issue, and for that every hospital needed to have infection prevention and control systems.