THE MISSING 20%
Each year, according to the WHO, 1 in 5 children are not fully vaccinated. Multi-dose vials and syringes have helped the world make enormous progress toward vaccinating entire populations and saving millions of lives.
Today’s challenge is to cover the remaining 20% of children. However, this cannot be achieved with vaccines presented in multi-dose vials.
This format, although low-cost, is severely vulnerable to wastage and contamination. In addition, when vaccines and essential medicines are delivered in multi-dose vials, it is more difficult for them to “go the last mile” to reach remote communities.
WHY DO UNSAFE MEDICAL INJECTIONS KEEP HAPPENING?
In low- and middle-income countries, up to 70% of injections are given with reused syringes, says the WHO. But reused syringes are contaminated, often with dangerous pathogens. When they are filled from a multi-dose vial, all future injections from that vial can be contaminated as well.
Why do trained clinical workers take the risk of reusing syringes?
Two reasons. First, in low-income economies, there is what the WHO calls an “ingrained” habit of saving and reusing medical materials rather than discarding what appears to be a perfectly good piece of equipment.
Second, many clinical workers mistakenly believe that washing a used syringe in alcohol or putting it in boiling water will disinfect the device. Unfortunately, that’s not true.