The Pan African Health Foundation (PAHF) is working with international donors, the people of Nigeria, and the Nigerian government to establish an auto-disable (AD) syringe factory near Port Harcourt of Nigeria's Delta Region.
Syringe re-use is a devastating problem in the developing world resulting in more than 25 million new infections of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other killer diseases each year. AD syringes are 'safe syringes' that use an automatic-locking device, which de-activates after a single use and thus prevents re-use.
The World Health Organization has identified AD syringes as the preferred method for preventing syringe re-use and has cited issues of cost and availability as factors preventing more-widespread use.
As such, the PAHF-supported factory will produce around 160 million AD syringes each year, which is enough to meet 20% of Nigeria's annual needs.
The syringes will be sold at prices sufficient to cover the factory's operating costs and to ensure continuous production. As a result, AD syringes will be available and affordable well in the future, and the organization hopes that sy?ringe-transmitted infections will drop substantially. The PAHF project's has other benefits including:
- plans to provide skills training and more than 300 jobs for local people;
- transfer of technologies to Africa;
- beneficial use of local raw materials and other locally-available resources;
- increased local self-reliance.
Four years after the initiation of the project, construction was completed and on October 27, 2008, factory supporters held a 'commissioning ceremony' attended by hundreds of people, including state and national dignitaries and the Nigerian press. 'Today, we are actually at a start and not a finish line,' stated PAHF founder Yuichi Ishimaru at the ceremony, 'and the challenge going forward will be to ensure that the plant is operated properly, maintaining global standards on a sustainable basis.' Worker training then began and with generous donor support, that training could proceed and the factory could open in late 2009.
The Pan African Health Foundation is dedicated to reducing Africa's disease burden by increasing the availability of essential medical supplies -- which in turn decrease the incidence of Africa's most devastating diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. In contrast to 'more traditional' aid programs that rely on inputs from abroad, PAHF helps African societies make use of their own resources to procure and produce the medical supplies they need. Specifically, PAHF helps African organizations establish medical supply factories. Once established, the factories are locally owned and operated on a for-profit basis, allowing them to have a long-term sustainable impact.
Significantly, this is not a short- or medium-term project. Instead, because it is to operate on a not-for-profit basis, with a solid business plan and owned by the Nigerian government, the Port Harcourt AD Syringe Factory will make 'safe syringes' available not just this year, but every year for years to come.
The Port Harcourt AD Syringe Factory will also serve as an economic stimulus for the community and region. As noted above, not only will the project create over 200 direct jobs for local workers, it will also provide numerous other economic benefits by using local suppliers for construction and raw materials. These economic benefits are critically important as they will help to alleviate unemployment and poverty while empowering the community to overcome their own challenges.
PAHF calls on partners to donate $1 million to train 'safe syringe' factory workers: managers, technicians and line-production personnel (all of whom are local people). Those funds were needed during the first quarter of 2009.
This is the project's final phase. To date, most of the $17 million in project support has come from the public sector, primarily Nigeria's Rivers State government. It is only fitting for the international private sector now to come forward and complete the project -- a health, anti-poverty, and job-creation project, and an opportunity to have a big impact in Nigeria.