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By NBF News
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The Federal Government has banned the use of conventional syringes for injections and ordered all tertiary hospitals to replace it with auto-disable Syringes from October 1, 2012.

The ban is in line with resolutions of the stakeholders meeting held on July 19, 2012 with regard to injection safety and waste management policy.

The World Health Organisation, WHO, had observed that millions of cases of blood born diseases could be traceable to the re-use of needles and syringes and therefore in 2007 ordered countries to change over from conventional syringes to auto-disable (AD) syringes.

And in preparation to full implementation, the federal government had directed all federal tertiary hospitals to replace the conventional syringes with auto-disable by October 1, 2012.

In a letter with reference number DHS/175/Vol. 111 dated March 27, 2012 and signed by the the Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, he ordered all Chief Medical Directors, CMDs and Medical Directors, MDs, to ensure that all conventional syringes in their stocks are exhausted and replaced with auto-disable syringes by October 1, 2012.

According to the letter, titled 'Re-introduction of Auto-Disable Syringes and the Discontinuation of Conventional Syringes in Federal Tertiary Hospitals', 'the decision is to ensure optimum safety of patients, care-givers in line with Federal Ministry of Health's policy on Injection Safety and healthcare waste management, as well as bring our health institutions to international standards and best practices.'

He therefore, ordered that 'further procurements of conventional syringes should seize forthwith.'

Following the ban, stakeholders in the health industry have hailed federal government's policy on the introduction of auto-disable syringes and the discontinuation of conventional ones.

They contended that the rising incidence in HIV/AIDS and other blood born diseases are as a result of re-use of conventional syringes and bad waste management, calling on federal government to ban its use in public hospitals in line with WHO directive.

Hailing the decision to ban the re-use of needles and syringes in an interview with Daily Sun, in Calabar, the Managing Director of First Medical and Sterile Products located at Nigeria Free Trade Zone, Calabar, Dr. Isaac Nnadi, said this is the auspicious time for the government at all levels and all major stakeholders to fight for the discontinued use of conventional syringes because of its attendant medical effects on patients.

Nnadi, who wondered why Nigeria should still be talking of conventional syringes when smaller third world countries including Uganda had embraced the auto-disable syringes years ago, hinted that the continuous re-use of conventional syringes is filled with dangers.

He said, 'The re-use of syringes and needles are dangerous and can cause increase in blood born diseases as well as increase country's disease burden. This implies that government will spend more money treating people who ordinarily should have been well.'

The renowned scientist, with many years of experience in medical manufacturing, said 'time has come for patients and consumers to start asking questions about the quality of syringes to be used on them; it is high time they started demanding AD syringes rather than going for 'cheap' and out-dated syringes in the name of trying to save cost.'

Nnadi stated emphatically that an injection is only considered safe 'for the mother or child or patient, when a health worker uses a sterile syringe and a sterile needle and appropriate injection techniques, as well as safe for the community when waste created by used injection equipment is disposed of correctly and does not cause harmful levels of pollution and injuries.'

Also hailing the plan to ban the use of conventional syringes by October this year, Dr. Theo Onyuku, a medical practitioner, said plans to outlaw the use of conventional syringes is a welcome development in the health sector.

Onyuku, a Calabar-based consultant psychiatrist, said 'I support the total ban of conventional syringes which is prone to being re-cycled and re-used on patients especially in rural areas where knowledge of injection safety is low. This unacceptable practice clearly exposes patients to serious medical danger.'

However, he said before the total ban on conventional syringes, there is need for continuous enlightenment and education of the populace.