While more than 1 million people die each year from improper use of hypodermic needles worldwide, that figure pales in comparison to the fact that the World Health Organization’s report that nearly half of all injections (estimated to be between 4-5 billion annually) administered in India, alone, are unsafe. One of the main reasons is that it is common for scavengers there to hunt through landfills in search of old syringes, which they then “clean” and sell to clinics. Unfortunately, many still bear remnants of blood-borne contamination such as HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis A and B.
In an effort to prevent these needless deaths, David Swann of Hudderson University in England has come up with a new, safer syringe designed to change color after its been used.
“It is very hard to tell which is a syringe just out of its packaging and which has been washed. That’s why we came up with the idea of developing ones coated inside the shell with ‘intelligent ink,’ that if exposed to carbon dioxide in the air, by either tasking it out of the package (or if the packaging is damaged) it will turn bright red as a warning to doctors that the needles may have already been used,” he said.
Dubbed the ABC syringe, Swann estimates that even if it is used for only 5% of all shots given in India, the color-changing hypos “could prevent 700,000 infections and save more than $130 million in medical costs after just five years.”