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Reuters Health Information (2003-11-06): Unsafe injection practices highly prevalent in developing countries

Public Health

Unsafe injection practices highly prevalent in developing countries

Last Updated: 2003-11-06 19:01:01 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Injections are administered more often than necessary in developing countries, and about one out of three are performed with reused needles and syringes in the absence of sterilization.

As part of the 2000 update of the World Health Organization's study of the global burden of disease, Dr. Yvan J. F. Hutin in Geneva, and colleagues reviewed published literature for 10 non-industrialised regions. Included in their analysis were population-based surveys estimating the frequency of injections and observational studies of injection practices.

According to their report in the November 8th issue of the British Medical Journal, the annual number of injections per person ranged from 1.7 to 11.3, while the proportion administered with reused equipment ranged from 1.2% to 75%.

"Interestingly injection practices are safer in sub-Saharan Africa than in the middle East and South Asia," the investigators write, presumably because African countries are more aware of the HIV pandemic. Reuse was highest in South East Asia.

Dr. Hutin's group recommends that "donors and lenders who supply injectable substances should also fund adequate quantities of single use injection devices," and that drug programs ensure access to this equipment. They also advise that health systems monitor indicators of injection practices.

BMJ 2003;327:1075-1078.

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