Legal row arises over sharps safety in Egypt

Tuesday January 17 2017

A legal row has erupted in Egypt over sharps safety, after a health official told doctors to re-use used syringes to administer injections to patients.

Leaders at a government-run hospital reportedly suggested last month that healthcare workers should use syringes and needles more than once amid budget cuts to the sector, despite the potential health implications this could have.

This is according to undersecretary of the country's Doctors' Syndicate Mona Mina. The Middle East Eye reports that she told the Manchette TV show: "I received a text message from one of the young doctors. It was basically a cry for help.

"He said doctors had received orders to use half the medical supplies they require - including syringes and kidney dialysis machinery - because there simply isn't enough to go around."

Reusing contaminated or broken needles and syringes can potentially lead to sharps injuries, as well as the cross-contamination of dangerous blood-borne infections from person to person. If doctors and nurses were to follow this advice, life-threatening illnesses including HIV and hepatitis C may be more easily spread.

However, the Egypt Independent reports the Egyptian health ministry has announced it will be suing Ms. Mina over her comments, due to the potential effect the advice could have had on people's health. This is because they do not believe it was issued, and they are also worried that people may misunderstand her comments and follow the damaging advice.

Overall, the country has a strong stance on sharps safety practices, with Egypt's assistant health minister for curative medicine Ahmed Mohie Al-Qased explaining the government is in fact considering the manufacture of self-destructing syringes, meaning the re-using suggestion was not at all necessary.

Mr. Al-Qased went on to explain that the health ministry has enough medical supplies, including brand new needles and syringes, in storage, so there will be enough equipment for the healthcare sector to continue to operate safely over the coming two years at least. After this time period, it is hoped that more funding for the industry will have been secured, but whatever the situation, it will never be recommended that needles and syringes are reused.