ISLAMABAD: The number of people suffering from hepatitis has been on the rise. Being rated as the country with the highest spreading rate in the world, Pakistan is in dire need of serious action regarding the issue.
One of the primary reasons quoted for the epidemic of the disease is the reuse of syringes around the country. These are not apt to undergo any sterilisation processes due to structural design. Laced with the previous users’ blood, the syringes become one of the main source of contamination and spread of not only hepatitis but also other deadly diseases such as HIV.
Around 70 per cent of the syringes being used in Pakistan are unsafe. They might come in plastic packaging but most of the products are being bought below the cost price from China. “Syringe reuse is quite literally murder on a global scale,” said a health expert. Medical practitioners are blindly giving unsafe injections at times because they do not have the resources to do otherwise. More importantly, they simply ignore the consequences this exercise can bear.
Marc Koska, inventor of the K-1, an auto-disable syringe, has led a worldwide campaign in creating awareness on this very serious issue. Maturing at the age of 23, Koska realised the hazards of the misuse of syringes and started delving into the matter. After researching the matter thoroughly he came up with a fool proof way to ensure that “a syringe was used only once.”
With almost 2 million syringes being sold a day and grand total of 2 billion sold world wide, Koska’s invention has been able to save almost 10 million people. “This syringe save lives as well as money. If infection is not being transmitted, treatment will not be required,” said Koska, while talking to The Express Tribune.
Having brought this ideology to the sub-continent, Koska received a tremendous response in India where his movement has been recorded to date as the largest health movement in the world, creating awareness amongst 700 million people within 5 days.
In 2005, Koska brought the campaign to Pakistan under Shaukat Aziz’s tenure and after getting assurance from the government that the programme will reach fruition within a year, the ministry failed to deliver. After five long years of waiting for the establishment of the programme, Koska returned to Pakistan once again to pursue his mission.
Pakistan is in dire need of a reform on the usage of syringes. With the total number of syringes being manufactured and imported into the country totalling at 200 million, surveys suggests on average almost every citizen gets 14 injections.
AMSON, a company which deals in vaccines and pharmacy, has been taken onboard in Islamabad and granted the license to manufacture and distribute these syringes around the country. After investing in a state-of-the-art multi-million dollar factory, AMSON is licensed to launch the product under the name of Apple K-1.
Koska explained the three elements required for the implementation of this programme and to move the traffic of used syringes out and establish K-1 as a standard utility item. “The programme requires a very distinct unobstructed instruction from the ministry, procurement of standards and public awareness,” he said.
The visionary has finally gone through the preliminary rounds of being in touch with the ministry and extending his ideology. Now with the help of mass media, radio shows, TV mandates and other traditional networks including schools, the campaign is being launched to educate the masses of Pakistan regarding the dangers of being treated by used syringes.
As a result within a year’s time of the launch, not only will each citizen be safely provided one syringe per injection but the occurrence of hepatitis and its spread is also envisioned to diminish.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2010.
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