One in Three Injections in Developing World Administered With Unsterile Needle, Study Says
People in the developing world receive too many injections, and one in three of the injections is administered with an unsterile needle, increasing the risk of HIV transmission, according to a study published in the Nov. 8 issue of BMJ, Reuters reports (Reuters, 11/6). Dr. Yvan Hutin, a medical officer at the World Health Organization's Department of Blood Safety and Clinical Technology, and colleagues conducted a literature review of published and unpublished WHO studies to estimate the global burden of disease attributable to unsafe injections in health care settings. According to the study, more than 16 billion injections are administered each year in the 10 regions of the study (Hutin et al., BMJ, 11/8). The researchers found that people in developing countries were receiving too many injections for illnesses that could be treated with oral medications or without medication at all and that the needles used for such injections are often reused or improperly sterilized (Reuters, 11/6). The researchers also found that 75% of injections given to people in the WHO's Southeast Asia Region Group D -- which includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and North Korea -- were unsafe. In other parts of Asia and the Western Pacific, 30% of all injections were unsafe; in two regions in Africa, the rates were 17% and 19%, respectively; in the Middle East it was 70%; and in Eastern Europe it was 11%, according to Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse, 11/7). Making the "conservative assumption" that regions in Latin America, for which data were unavailable, follow the reuse patterns observed in Eastern and Central Europe, the researchers estimated that 6.7 billion, or 39.3%, of the 16 billion injections administered each year are given with reused equipment. The researchers recommend that HIV programs educate people about the risk of transmission through unsafe injection, essential drug programs ensure access to single-use injection devices and health systems monitor wastes from injections (BMJ, 11/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.