Injection safety and waste management
According to the World Health Organization, 16 billion injections are given each year in developing countries, and the risk of unsafe injections is a serious concern. Unsafe injections are a major source of infection with blood borne pathogens and the problem is most acute in developing countries, where many injections are delivered with unsterilized or reused needles. Reuse of needles can cause the spread of life-threatening disease. For example, cases of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV caused by unsafe injections accounted for 32, 40, and 5 percent of new infections in 2000, respectively. However, single-use syringes, which range in cost between US$0.03 and $0.06 per syringe, could lower the risk of receiving an unsafe injection. In addition, other issues such as waste disposal and improper administration of vaccines are important problems related to injection safety.
Since the 1980s, in collaboration with many different partners, PATH has developed technologies that make it easier to safely handle and dispose of injection equipment and medical waste. PATH also works with health ministries worldwide to assess and prioritize low-cost options for medical waste disposal and improve practices and policies to protect health workers and the general public from needle-stick injuries and exposure to biohazardous materials. Visit PATH’s website to learn more about its work on safer injections and health care waste management.
WHO Best Practices for Injections and Related Procedures Toolkit (2010)
A toolkit that covers elements of standard precautions relevant to the transmission of bloodborne pathogens through unsafe injection practices in health-care settings.
The Safe Injection Global Network (SIGN) Alliance
A website about the Alliance, which aims to achieve safe and appropriate use of injections throughout the world.
Featured PATH resources
Proper Handling and Disposal of Auto-Disable Syringes and Safety Boxes (2006)
A training module about safely disposing of auto-disable syringes and safety boxes.
Helping PEPFAR Partners Manage Health Care Waste: Practical Approaches and Lessons Learned From Uganda and Nigeria (2009)
A paper that describes strategies used to improve health care waste management, including vaccine waste, in Uganda and Nigeria.
Page last updated: December 2012.