November 2, 2011
A British entrepreneur and designer of an auto-disable (AD) syringe is on a mission to get such devices widely adopted to prevent syringe re-use, which can transmit infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. Tanzania is one of the countries using the AD syringes, said Marc Koska, founder of SafePoint, a charity that advocates for the use of any quality-assured brand of AD syringe.
A 2000 World Health Organization study estimated 23 million hepatitis B and C transmissions were attributable to unsafe injection practices each year, costing $119 billion in annual medical costs and lost productivity. Koska hopes to persuade four other east African countries to use AD syringes before taking on the global market.
The largest procurer of routine childhood immunizations, UNICEF, provides safe syringes along with the vaccines, Koska noted. But that leaves out "the other 90 percent" of injections, he said.
At £0.03 (US $0.05) apiece, syringes are cheap to manufacture. A small number of large companies make them, bundling them as a loss leader with other higher-margin products. AD syringes can be made cheaply made after initially expensive changes in the production process.
With Koska's AD syringe, the plunger breaks upon attempted re-use. Three billion have been sold.