Outbreak of HIV infection may escalate into a major embarrassment for India

All India Syringes &Needles Mfg Association (AISNMA) calls for immediate switch over to Auto Disable

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New Delhi: We may be patting our back for being able to make fugitive of polio virus, another virus HIV, which causes fatal disease AIDS, are having a field day in India, thanks to rampant use of unsafe syringes. HIV is much more calamitous than polio.

Nearly 50 people getting infected with HIV due to reuse of a single syringe in UP, is going to escalate into a major global embarrassment for India. India is behind even Uganda and Tanzania in safe syringe practice. If this episode does not serve as an eye opener, the country could be staring at an HIV / AIDS epidemic.

In the wake of the occurrence in UP’s Unnao district, All India Syringes and Needles Manufacturers Association (AISNMA) has exhorted the government to not lose a day in ditching medieval syringe practice and switching over to auto disable syringes.

AISNMA president Rajiv Nath feels this could be just a tip of an iceberg as the problem is spread across the country. If this menace is not stopped, India could be staring at an HIV / AIDS epidemic. Coming down heavily on National AIDS Control organization (NACO)’s lax attitude towards injection safety and preventable measures in its strategy to fight HIV, Mr. Nath said, ‘It needs urgent HSS and introduction of UIP including urgent deployment of Auto Disable syringes and needle stick prevention IV Cannula to immediately limit epidemic from spreading.’

‘Is injection safety in public healthcare a key element in NACO’s strategy to fight HIV as is done in Africa? Mr. Nath asked. The answer obviously is no as it thinks spread of infection via public healthcare is not an issue and therefore India has no funding or monitoring policy dedicated to public healthcare system strengthening. . Further, there is no tracking of infections or registry via public healthcare from reuse of syringes/needles or needle stick injuries.

Mr Nath further said, ‘NACO is myopic in limiting problem of Syringe reuse to only drug users. Every time such tragedies like current one in Unnao  or earlier in Modasa in Gujarat happens, it causes discussions and publication of a Guideline book and then forgotten. Bad habits can’t be changed by education alone if culturally engrained and therefore reliance has to be on technology. As a car alarm forces you to belt up so does Auto Disable (AD) Syringes ensure- no possibility of Reuse?’

‘In this context, it is important to ask, what is India’s Road Map to switch to Auto Disable Syringes as per WHO advisory to achieve this by 2020? Uganda and Tanzania banned imports and use of Std Disposable syringes to fight HIV and to disallow access to Quacks and Private sector to Disposable Syringes. Why it is not being done in India?, Mr Nath added.

He said, ‘The Ministers in various states of Health and Family Welfare and DGHS asks us to stop making Disposable Syringes and switch to AD syringes. We are ready to do so, but India should first stop buying disposable syringes in a predictable planned phased manner and switch to AD syringes and then CDSCO/ Regulators need to enforce a ban/ restricted access. With more than 40 thousands Quacks in Delhi alone one can imagine how quickly and fiercely the HIV epidemic is spreading. It is high time Govt. takes immediate cognizance of the serious issue and deploys Auto Disable Syringes to save India from Threat of HIV / AIDS epidemic. It is MUST for India to enforce Injection Safety on priority basis” concluded Mr Nath.’

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