Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Safe Injection Drive- 'We' need to do something...

Friends, we really need to think about this- 3 lakh Indians die annually due to the use of unsterilised injections. A small negligence on the part of us and the doctor can lead in to the spread of fatal diseases and consequently the death of innocent lives.

The ‘Safe Injection’ has been started by SafePoint trust UK, initiated by its founder Marc Koska. He works in the field of medical equipment designing, that’s why this cause is so close to his heart. The press conference of the launch of this extensive media awareness programme in the form of PSAs on television, radio and cinema houses was held at ITC Grand, Parel on November 19th. I attended the conference as a DNA reporter, but as an Indian, one thought kept on pondering in my mind- Why does someone from an another country has to come and spread awareness among Indians, cant someone from ‘us’ do it?Following are some of the facts that I came to know through the PC.

Mark Koska said that he came across a study conducted by the IndiaCLEN Program Evaluation Network on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Government of India and World Bank (2002-2004) and found that around 65% syringes used in the country are not disposed or sterilized and re-used to inject another person. This could lead in the transmission of the deadly HIV and Hepatitis viruses. He waited till 2008 for something to be done by the Indian government but nothing really happened. So he decided that its high time that something should be done now. That’s why he founded SafePoint Trust UK to spread awareness about syringes all across the world. Koska is the inventor of the AD syringe (Auto Disable) which is in use worldwide.The campaign kicked off on November 14 in New Delhi. Fifteen Brits associated with SafePoint have flown down to India for this cause.

This campaign will include showcasing of short films in over 300 cinema theatres in the country, airing Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on television channels and also on AIR and FM radio. The voice-overs to the announcements have been given by none other than Kiran Bedi. The cost of the week long extensive media campaign is around 7,00,000 euros. Koska said that they will also be airing the PSAs in the ODI telecast between India and England on November 20 on television channels.Koska added that the response to the announcements has been good so far. He proclaims that at the end of the campaign at least 100 million people will become aware and will demand their rights. He has also observed that ragpickers collect these syringes from the dump, wash them and pack them for reuse. He adds in that India needs around 6 billion syringes in a year and the number of available syringes is around 2 billion.SafePoint has been spreading awareness in many developing countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda. When asked Koska whether they approached the Health Ministry for support, he answers diplomatically, “We tried to gain access to the Health Ministry, but we failed to get through.” But he has found support in the form of Former President of India Abdul Kalam, Kiran Bedi, Lila Poonawalla and Nana Chudasama among the others.

It’s high time the Indian government takes a clue from this whole campaign and does something to save innocent lives. Someone from an another country has started educating us on our health rights and it’s the need of the hour that we Indians awake and do something for our own betterment.