The cost of unsafe injections

Bull World Health Organ. 1999;77(10):808-11.


Unsafe injection practices are associated with substantial morbidity and mortality, particularly from hepatitis B and C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. These inadvertently transmitted bloodborne diseases become manifest some considerable time after infection and hence may not be appropriately accounted for. Annually more than 1.3 million deaths and US$ 535 million are estimated to be due to current unsafe injection practices. With the global increase in the number of injections for vaccination and medical services, safer injecting technologies such as auto-disable syringes must be budgeted for. Investment in health education and safer disposal will also reduce infections associated with unsafe injecting practices. Safer injecting practices are more expensive than current less safe practices, but the additional cost is more than offset by the reduction in disease that would result.

PIP: Unsafe injection practices, defined as the use of unsterilized injection equipment in patients, are linked with substantial morbidity and mortality in certain bloodborne diseases including hepatitis B and C infections, as well as infection with HIV. It is estimated that over 1.3 million lives are lost annually as a result of unsafe injection practices and more than US$535 million is spent each year to treat emerging bloodborne diseases. With the significant increases in the number of injections for immunization and medical services globally, safer injecting technologies such as the use of auto-disable syringes and oral aerosol or oral formulations must be considered. Likewise, investment in health education and promoting safe, convenient, and effective disposal of injection equipment will also decrease infections associated with unsafe injection practices. Finally, although safer injecting technologies are more costly than the existing less safe practices, the additional cost is more than offset by the resultant decrease in bloodborne diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / economics*
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / etiology*
  • Cross Infection / transmission
  • Forecasting
  • Global Health
  • HIV Infections / economics
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / etiology
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Care Costs / trends
  • Hepatitis B / economics
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B / etiology
  • Hepatitis B / transmission
  • Hepatitis C / economics
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / etiology
  • Hepatitis C / transmission
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Injections / adverse effects*
  • Morbidity