The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Syringe shock from ministry
- 40% of injections are unsafe in India: Govt

New Delhi, Dec. 18: Terrified of injections' Hang on, here’s more horror from the needlepoint.

The health ministry has conceded that 40 per cent of syringes in India are either recycled or of “doubtful sterility”.

“A study conducted on the issue of unsafe injections in India reveals 23.9 per cent of injections use syringes of doubtful sterility and 16.2 per cent are made up of recycled syringes and needles,” the ministry says.

The World Health Organisation had recently observed that three out of every four injections in India and other South Asian countries use unsterilised needles, which make people vulnerable to infections like HIV and hepatitis. Three recent studies in an international journal on sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS have also questioned the widely prevalent theory that unsafe sex is the main reason for the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Instead, they have argued that it is unsafe injections that transmit the infection on a scale far larger than is assumed.

The journal said 48 per cent of AIDS cases are due to the use of unsafe syringes while 30 per cent are due to unsafe sex. It pointed to the occurrence of HIV in infants whose mothers are not HIV positive.

Reacting to the WHO report, the health ministry said it has initiated steps to ensure zero-risk injections. “The best way is to use auto-disabled syringes which, after being used, automatically bend in the middle,” said an official.

The government has instructed that all vaccines under the pilot project for introducing the hepatitis-B vaccine should be administered through auto-disabled syringes. The government is also considering use of these syringes for immunisation programmes. It has asked AIDS control societies to supply needle cutters to government hospitals. Health functionaries are being trained on safe injection practices.

The Union cabinet tonight also approved an amendment in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act which calls for stringent punishment, including death penalty, for those involved in manufacturing, selling and dealing with fake drugs.

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