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.