A new, non-reusable syringe that changes colors could decrease the 1.3 million deaths each year caused by dirty needles in developing nations.
Dr. David Swann of Huddersfield University invented A Behaviour Changing Syringe (ABCs) that turns bright red within 60 seconds of use, preventing it from being reused. The device was a finalist for the prestigious INDEX: Award.
In developing nations, reuse of standard syringes is a huge problem. People scavenge through landfills looking for discarded syringes, then sell the unsterile needles to hospitals, resulting in infections and deaths.
While other non-reusable syringes can cost 200% more than standard syringes, the ABCs cost approximately four cents, only 1% more than the standard.
The ABCs is packaged in an air-tight container. Special "intelligent ink" turns the barrel of the syringe from transparent to red--a universal signifier of “danger”--60 seconds after the package is opened and exposed to air. Swann tested the ABCs in India, and found that 100% of men, women, and children (both literate and illiterate) correctly identified the red syringe to be dangerous.
Paired with other innovative ideas like a bracelet that reminds mothers when it’s time for their baby’s next vaccine and a super-thermos that keeps vaccines cold for up to 30 days in hot climates, this new syringe could significantly reduce early deaths in developing nations.