ISLAMABAD-The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday launched the National Action Plan (NAP) to address unsafe injection practices to control spread of HIV and hepatitis diseases.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on NHS Dr. Zafar Mirza on this occasion said that epidemiologists and all those who understand data among us must be well aware that acquisition of hepatitis C among patients in Pakistan is strongly linked with exposure to unsafe injections.

He said that the HIV outbreak among children and adults in Ratodero has also been linked to this menace.

Mirza informed that the ministry had been working hard to put together a national response since the HIV outbreak in April this year. Immediately after the confirmation of the outbreak, we requested the WHO to send a team of international experts who conducted a thorough investigation along with the local teams and narrowed down the risk factors of exposure to unsafe injections.

He maintained that after the findings were disseminated in June, the ministry developed an advanced draft of the National Action Plan to address the issue of unsafe injections which has been shared.

The SAPM on Health told that a national task force on injection safety has been also notified, adding that we have also taken local manufacturers and importers of syringes on board to tackle this problem.

Mirza revealed that there are three broad areas of the Nation Action Plan, which include enhanced role of regulations, enabling environment, and community empowerment.

He said that within enhanced role of regulations, we will address issues like supply of sub-standard syringes in the country; promote rational use of injectable medicines; address quackery and malpractice; and promote adequate management of health care waste. In enabling environment, we will introduce reuse prevention syringes for therapeutic injections or auto-disable syringes as they are commonly known. Mirza said introducing auto-disable syringes for therapeutic injections was recommendation of WHO since 2015, adding that it recommends that all members of state should switch to the use of these safety engineered syringes by 2020. The WHO representative in Pakistan on the occasion for launch of the National Action Plan for Injection Safety in Pakistan said that unsafe injection practices put a substantial burden of Blood-Borne Injections (BBI), like HIV and viral hepatitis, both of which are important public health issues in Pakistan.

According to the statement issued the representative said that the problem of injection safety is multifaceted in the country.