Coast KZN

21 Feb 2018

Syringe disposal in the spotlight

Chris Ndaliso (Daily News) Picture: Needles and syringes were found washed up on Durban beaches in January.

The eThekwini Municipality wants answers from the national Department of Health about an agreement it has with TB/HIV CARE Association, after the association admitted that hundreds of its needles and syringes had washed up on a Durban beach recently.

The city’s security and emergency services committee will convene a meeting with the provincial and national departments of health to discuss a memorandum between the departments and TB/HIV CARE Association.

The company supplies needles and syringes to drug users in an effort to prevent needle sharing which can transmit diseases such as HIV.

Earlier this year, hundreds of syringes – some of which contained drugs – washed up on Durban’s North Beach.

Tabling a report at the executive committee on Tuesday, deputy mayor Fawzier Peer has vowed to ensure that the company stops operations until clarity is obtained from both departments.

The meetings with the departments were yet to be scheduled.

At the time of the incident, it was reported that waves had washed up numerous pollutants including medical waste.


Peer, who also chairs the security and emergency services committee, said: “We found the company operating here but they don’t have a way to dispose of these syringes and they pose a danger to the public.

“Since they said they had this agreement with the health departments, our first step will be to sit with both departments. We want to look into this memorandum of agreement and what it says,” Peer said.

DA councillor Heinz de Boer drew criticism for his statement that the city was getting into this with a mission to find fault.

“There’s a potential solution to this. Also, remember the government is providing free condoms in an attempt to prevent the transmission of HIV, yet the condoms are strewn all over the place.

“If we go to the company and say, ‘stop operations’ then we would find people exchanging syringes, and the spread of the diseases,” De Boer said.

eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede has called for the company to halt its operations until the issue has been resolved.

Alison Best, TB/HIV communications head, said while the supply of needles and syringes to people who inject drugs may raise concerns about how they will be disposed of, studies showed that limiting the distribution of needles and syringes, in fact, increases the risk that they will be disposed of inappropriately.