The common failure of health systems to ensure adequate and sufficient supplies of injection devices may have a negative impact on injection safety. We conducted an assessment in April 2001 to determine to which extent an increase in safe injection practices between 1995 and 2000 was related to the increased access to injection devices because of a new essential medicine policy in Burkina Faso.
We reviewed outcomes of the new medicine policy implemented in1995. In April 2001, a retrospective programme review assessed the situation between 1995 and 2000. We visited 52 health care facilities where injections had been observed during a 2000 injection safety assessment and their adjacent operational public pharmaceutical depots. Data collection included structured observations of available injection devices and an estimation of the proportion of prescriptions including at least one injection. We interviewed wholesaler managers at national and regional levels on supply of injection devices to public health facilities.
Fifty of 52 (96%) health care facilities were equipped with a pharmaceutical depot selling syringes and needles, 37 (74%) of which had been established between 1995 and 2000. Of 50 pharmaceutical depots, 96% had single-use 5 ml syringes available. At all facilities, patients were buying syringes and needles out of the depot for their injections prescribed at the dispensary. While injection devices were available in greater quantities, the proportion of prescriptions including at least one injection remained stable between 1995 (26.5 %) and 2000 (23.8 %).
The implementation of pharmaceutical depots next to public health care facilities increased geographical access to essential medicines and basic supplies, among which syringes and needles, contributing substantially to safer injection practices in the absence of increased use of therapeutic injections.