A Behaviour Changing (ABC) Syringe uses a simple label that changes colour when it has been taken out of the packaging so that users are able to easily tell if it has been used before and, therefore, know if it’s safe.

Industrial designer and project leader David Swan of the University of Huddersfield led a team in an innovative study that took place over two years to find a solution to the problem of disposable syringe reuse, particularly in the developing world.

According to the World Health Organization, the administering of unsafe injections, particularly in the developing world, leads to 1.3 million deaths annually.

This includes 340,000 HIV infections, 15 million Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infections, 1 million Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infections, 3 million bacterial infections and 850,000 injection site abscesses. Research shows that up to 40% of the injections given throughout the world are with syringes and needles that have been used before and are unsterilised. In India, the figure is 63%.

“Teaching about the perils of reuse of syringes is a fundamental part of medical training and yet, throughout the developing world, reuse continues to be a generally accepted practice,” said Peter Evans, former Lead for World Health Organization (WHO) Procurement Worldwide & Project Lead: Auto–Disable Syringes.

“Part of this is because there is no immediate feedback that something is wrong. The product described – ABC Syringe [which has] an indicator showing prior exposure to air and therefore non-sterile – is to my knowledge unique.”

The purpose of the innovate syringe was to make it straightforward for people to be able to know if it had already been used. In the user testing, 100% of participants were able to distinguish an unsafe injection from a safe one.

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