Medical Injection Safety
Medical injections are the most common health care procedure worldwide. When performed correctly, they can save lives – but if performed incorrectly, medical injections can transmit harmful infectious disease pathogens, including HIV. The risk of spreading HIV and other pathogens in this manner can be drastically reduced by lowering the number of unsafe and unnecessary injections. Safe medical injection practices protect not only patients, but also local community members and health care workers who are routinely exposed to needles and other medical sharps.
The Power of Partnerships:
In fiscal year 2007, the Emergency Plan supported:
- Training or retraining for approximately 78,000 people in medical injection safety, as well as providing commodities for safe medical injections.
The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Emergency Plan/PEPFAR) supports efforts to reduce the number of unnecessary medical injections and to make necessary injections safer. PEPFAR supports programs to improve provider practices; reduce community demand for injections; support the procurement of appropriate injection commodities to eliminate re-use of syringes and needles and improve safety; and facilitate the safe disposal of used injection equipment and supplies, especially sharps. In addition, the Emergency Plan supports training for health care workers in universal medical precautions to reduce the risk of blood-borne infections, and assists in procuring safety boxes for sharps, medical waste management gear, and protective clothing.
Emergency Plan-supported activities are based on guidelines developed by the Safe Injection Global Network (SIGN), a technical advisory board sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO). SIGN strategies inform countries’ decisions on injection safety standards, the structure of programs, training, assessments, and monitoring and evaluation.
Injection safety strategies include:
- Encouraging countries without national safe injection policies to develop policies based on SIGN principles;
- Support facilities to adopt and promote safe injection practices among health care workers and community members;
- Support countries to purchase safe injection equipment and supplies;
- Support facilities to safely manage the disposal of sharps waste.
The Emergency Plan supports post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment for health workers who suffer a needle-stick injury. This intervention aims to prevent people exposed to infected blood or other fluids from progressing to HIV infection. By protecting health care workers, the Emergency Plan helps to sustain the health care workforce of the developing world.