The “Safe Injection Global Network” (SIGN) was established in 1999 as a voluntary coalition of stakeholders aiming to achieve safe and appropriate use of injections throughout the world. The WHO department of Essential Health Technologies provides the secretariat for the network.
Unsafe injection practices are increasingly recognized as a major source of infection with bloodborne pathogens. While it is the responsibility of all health care workers, their employers, the public, and national governments to ensure safe and appropriate use of injections, the prevention of bloodborne pathogen transmission and other adverse events associated with injections will require improved collaboration between organizations and individuals sharing a common interest in attaining this goal.
One focus of particular common concern to the Medical Devices team and SIGN is the quality and safety of injection devices. WHO has therefore worked closely with ISO in the development of new standards for auto-disable syringes. The performance specifications and standards for syringes and needles, and the development of new technologies, will be the focus of a special working group of the new WHO Performance, Quality and Safety initiative of the immunization team. Other common objectives include: (i) work with partners to ensure that those who procure injectable medications also procure sufficient quantities of safe injection equipment; (ii) pre-qualification of injection equipment; (iii) WHO assistance in technology transfer for local production; and (iv) an international vigilance system for injection devices.
The work of the Injection Safety project in the WHO Department of Essential Health Technologies will expand in 2005 to embrace other infection control activities, notably the prevention of transmission of bloodborne pathogens in health care settings. The Centers for Disease Control in the USA continues to support this WHO project.