Dr. Zafar Mirza launches Landmark National Action Plan on Injection Safety.

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Islamabad: launching event of National Action Plan to address Unsafe Injection Practices in Pakistan organized by Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination was held here today. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza was the Chief Guest.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Zafar Mirza said unsafe injection practices by providers a national problem which should have been addressed 20 or 30 years ago. 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, said by SAPM.

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. To date we have developed an advanced draft of a national action plan to address unsafe injections which has been shared with you and we will welcome your comments and feedback. We have also notified a national task force on injection safety and we have also taken local manufacturers and importers of syringes on board to tackle this problem, SAPM said.

There are three broad areas of the nation action plan which include enhanced role of regulations, enabling environment and community empowerment. 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. In enabling environment, we will introduce reuse prevention syringes for therapeutic injections or auto disable syringes as they are commonly known. Please bear in mind that introducing auto disable syringes for therapeutic injections is a WHO recommendation since 2015 and it recommends 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. The third component is community empowerment in which we want to enable patients and the community to question the provider regarding he need of an injection and whether the syringe is new and opened from a new packet and safeguard the physical as well as social environment.

I realize that all of this may sound too ambitious but I can assure you that there is no other way to do it. Unsafe injections by health care providers is our collective national problem which needs addressing at all levels and by everyone, said the SAPM.

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