With the support of IKEA Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO is introducing a new policy on injection safety and a global campaign to help all countries to better tackle the issue of unsafe injections.

WHO service delivery and safety department director Dr Edward Kelley said: "One reason is that people in many countries expect to receive injections, believing they represent the most effective treatment.

"Another is that for many health workers in developing countries, giving injections in private practice supplements salaries that may be inadequate to support their families."

The WHO is urging all the countries to exclusively use the new smart syringes by 2020, and is also calling to implement policies and standards for procurement, safe use and safe disposal of syringes.

The organization noted that syringes without safety features currently cost $0.03 to 0.04 when procured by a UN agency in a developing country and the new smart syringes cost twice the amount. It is expected the price to decline over time as demand increases.

According to a WHO sponsored 2014 study, estimated that in 2010, around 1.7 million people have been infected with hepatitis B virus, up to 3,15, 000 with hepatitis C virus and more than 33, 800 with HIV through an unsafe injection.

Around 16 billion injections are administered every year, of which 5% each are being used for immunizing children and adults, and other procedures such as blood transfusions and injectable contraceptives, while remaining 90% are given into muscle (intramuscular route) or skin (subcutaneous or intradermal route) to administer medicines.

Image: WHO is urging countries to exclusively use smart syringes by 2020. Photo: courtesy of WHO.