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WHO to launch Injection Safety Project in India on World Hepatitis Day

MUMBAI: World Health Organization is launching an `Injection Safety Project’ in India on World Hepatitis Day, along with guidelines to scale up treatment and care of Hepatitis. Hepatitis is preventable and treatable, but continues to be an acute public health challenge globally, and in south-east Asian countries.

Safe injections, blood transfusions and other healthcare procedures can prevent the spread of hepatitis B and C, while promoting hygienic and clean food and water can reduce the risk of hepatitis A and E infection. Around 33% of Hepatitis B and 42% of Hepatitis C cases are attributed to unsafe injections.

The Injection Safety Project was globally started by WHO in 2015, and is expected to be kick-started in India on Thursday. The campaign stresses injection safety through deployment of `smart auto disable (AD) syringes’ in developing countries by 2020, and the need for partnership between stakeholders in public and private sector.

India has a poor penetration of AD syringes, even though there is not much cost involved in upgrading the facilities to manufacture these devices. At present, AD syringes are being imported from China as these are a bit cheaper than those indigenously produced, industry experts say.

The government should lay down a policy and standards for procurement, use and safe disposal of SMART syringes, as well as switch completely to AD syringes over the next couple of years, they added.

The cost of an injection from AD syringe is 8 times less than of glass syringe, and 6 times less than standard disposable syringe, Rajiv Nath president, AISNMA (All India Syringes & Needle Manufacturers Association) told.
Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E, and can cause millions of deaths, with types B and C being the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
Viral hepatitis has been recognized as a serious public health problem in India by WHO, with over 52 million people infected with chronic hepatitis in the country.

WHO is releasing its first hepatitis testing guidelines this year which provides guidance on who should be tested, and recommends simple testing strategies to help scale up hepatitis testing, treatment and care. Countries have been urged to procure safety engineered injection devices, which prevent reuse and hence don’t lead to accidental needle stick injuries. According to a WHO study, for every $1 invested in injection safety, savings are to the tune of over $14 in hidden cost of public healthcare spending for treatment of these ailments.

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