February 27, 2015
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that smart syringes, which break after a single injection, should be used for every procedure in as little as five years. These medical devices would prevent the two million people who are currently injured each year as a result of reusing syringes.
Although, like most safety devices they are more expensive to manufacturer, the WHO states that it is a much cheaper option in the long term as it will prevent healthcare organisations having to spend funds on treating diseases caused by bloodborne pathogens.
Every year, more than 16 billion injections are administered annually, with normal syringes allowing for multiple uses, leaving it to the responsibility of the caregiver to know to dispose of them after every use.
However, smart devices restrict the plunger being pulled back after an injection or retract the needle, meaning it can only be used once.
Dr Selma Khamassi, the head of the WHO team for injection safety, told BBC News: "This will hopefully help eliminate the 1.7 million new hepatitis B cases, the 300,000 hepatitis C cases and the 35,000 HIV cases every year, and all those we don't have figures for, such as Ebola and Marburg."
Current syringes cost between two cents (1.3p) and four cents to develop, while smart devices cost between four and six cents. However, the WHO says this increase is "small" and these instruments offer the most cost-effective way to treat global disease.
Dr Khamassi added: "Injection safety is, I think, the most cost-effective way to prevent all these diseases.
"If we compare the price of most expensive syringes to the cost of treatment for an HIV case, or a hep C case, there is no comparison."
It is hoped that sheathed needles would prevent healthcare workers from accidentally injuring themselves, which would stop another crisis from happening like the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.