Most immunization programs in the Region use single-use disposable plastic syringes for administering vaccinations. During natural disasters, such as the one caused by "Mitch", all health personal (international volunteers and national staff) should make sure that PAHO/WHO guidelines are followed to assure safe use of disposable injection equipment and that the proper equipment for collection and disposal of contaminated syringes and needles is available. This is especially true when the standard operating procedures cannot be followed because either the collection of medical waste has been disrupted or the facilities for properly destroying used syringes are not available. PAHO/WHO recommends the following guidelines:
Failure to adhere to the above guidelines may put public health at risk because used disposable injection equipment maybe re-used and thus place the general public at risk of disease and death. Health workers who recap used needles put themselves at risk of contracting infectious disease due accidental needlestick injuries. Members of the general public may suffer accidental needlestick injuries if used needles and syringes are not properly destroyed.
Remember every injection should be administered with a sterile needle and syringe.
Department of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief
Tel: (202) 974-3434
Regional Office of the World Health Organization