BY enacting the Sindh Regulation and  Control of Disposable Syringes Bill 2010, the government of Sindh, acting unilaterally and not carrying the other three provinces on board, has perhaps unknowingly created a great deal of confusion, caused hardship and created a situation where life and wellbeing of many patients have been placed at risk.

A most critical segment of the patient community, i.e. the diabetics, has been placed at risk by not clearly identifying disposable insulin syringes from the prohibited list.

In Pakistan and, in fact, all over the world a vast majority of insulin-dependent diabetics are often obliged to inject insulin several times a day.

Self-destruct syringes for insulin use are not available anywhere in the world.

By blanket prohibition, without describing the size, volume or application of the disposable syringes, a question mark has been placed on the availability of such instruments as are used in radiology since, so far, auto-destruct syringes in sizes larger than 10ml are not available.

By prohibiting disposable syringes, only within the confines of Sindh and disregarding free availability in the rest of the country, the government of Sindh has unknowingly placed itself in an untenable position, as disposable syringes which the government proposes to ban will be easily infiltrated from other provinces.

Ostensibly the objective of the Sindh government is to control the spread of blood-related diseases such as hepatitis which, according to the government, spreads due to reuse of syringes.

Therefore, by banning disposable syringes, the government feels that it will succeed and will thus fulfil its duty of providing risk-free healthcare services to the community.

Since disposable syringes are not the problem but their alleged misuse, it would be logical to deal with the cause. It must be remembered that it is not the gun which kills. It is, in fact, the finger that pulls the trigger.

In many South African countries that had a very serious HIV problem, they succeeded without having to ban the disposable syringe.

If the Sindh government, along with other stakeholders, were to embark upon an awareness and education programme, particularly in rural areas and amongst the economically deprived section of the population, it will not only achieve its objective of controlling the spread of hepatitis but by creating such awareness it will ultimately help to create a healthier society generally.

The Sindh government should review the decision prohibiting the use of disposable syringes, and take effective measures to eradicate drug abuse by seeking help from ‘Safe Injection Global Network’ of the World Health Organisation so that an effective framework against misuse of disposable syringes could be formed.

M. HAROON QASSIM Chairman Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association Islamabad

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