ISLAMABAD, Dec 17 (APP):Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza on Tuesday launched landmark national action plan to address unsafe injection practices in Pakistan.

Addressing the launching ceremony, Dr Zafar Mirza said unsafe injection practices by providers was a national problem which should had been addressed 30 years ago.

He said “Epidemiologists and all those who are well versed with published literature and those who understand data among us must be well aware that acquisition of hepatitis C among patients in Pakistan is strongly linked with exposure to unsafe injections.”

There are other factors also such as unsafe transfusion of blood and practices by barbers, reuse of equipment by roadside and other dentists, needle stick injuries to health care workers, people who inject drugs and in some cases mother to child transmission.

He said that the HIV outbreak among children and adults in Ratordero which has devastated lives of so many families has also been linked to this menace.

Since the HIV outbreak in April this year the ministry has been working hard to put together a national response.

Immediately after the outbreak was confirmed we requested WHO to send a team of international experts who conducted a thorough investigation along with the local teams and narrowed down the risk factors to exposure to unsafe injections, he added.

Dr Zafar said “After the findings were disseminated in June we have taken a multi prong approach to address this issue and we need the support of provinces to work collectively and whole heartedly with each other.”

He said to date, we have developed an advanced draft of a national action plan to address unsafe injections which had been shared for feedback.

He said that the government had also notified a national task force on injection safety and also taken local manufacturers and importers of syringes on board to tackle this problem.
“There are three broad areas of the nation action plan which included enhanced role of regulations, enabling environment and community empowerment,” he added.

“Within enhanced role of regulations we will address issues like supply of sub standard syringes in the country, promote rational use of injectable medicines, address quackery and malpractice and promote adequate management of health care waste.”

He said that in enabling environment, we would introduce reuse prevention syringes for therapeutic injections or auto disable syringes as they are commonly known.

He said that introducing auto disable syringes for therapeutic injections is a WHO recommendation since 2015 and it recommended that all member states should switch to use of these safety engineered syringes by 2020.

Enabling environment also includes training of health care providers on rational prescription of injections and improving infection prevention and control and appropriate management of sharps and health care waste management.

He said that he third component was community empowerment in which the government wanted to enable patients and the community to question the provider regarding the need of an injection and whether the syringe was new and opened from a new packet and safeguard the physical as well as social environment.

He said that injections by health care providers is our collective national problem which needs addressing at all levels and by everyone.