The ABC Syringe makes final three in World Design Impact Prize

The ABC Syringe Dr David Swann’s colour-changing ABC Syringe has been shortlisted for the 2014 World Design Impact Prize Award

Fri, 07 Feb 2014 15:29:00 GMT

World Design Impact Prize shortlists Dr David Swann’s colour-changing ABC Syringe, designed to deter the reuse of syringes and stop the spread of infection 

UNIVERSITY of Huddersfield lecturer Dr David Swann’s design for a syringe that changes colour in order to deter its re-use – with the possibility of spreading dangerous infection – has already earned global interest.  Now the project’s profile will be raised higher still, following its shortlisting for a second major design award. 

For Dr Swann it will mean an expenses-paid trip to Cape Town, for a ceremony at which the winner of the 2014 World Design Impact Prize, organised by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, will be announced. 

The ABC Syringe (A Behaviour Changing Syringe) is the name given to Dr Swann’s invention, which is designed to tackle a massive global healthcare problem.  It is estimated by the World Health Organisation that up to 40% of the 40 billion injections administered each year are delivered with syringes reused without sterilisation.  This is responsible for large proportions of new cases of HIV and hepatitis, responsible for some three million deaths every year. 

Dr Swann’s solution is a plastic syringe that is colourless while it remains in its nitrogen-filled pack.  But exposure to air activates an ink applied to the label on the barrel.  There is a brief treatment window – lasting about a minute – before the ink, having absorbed CO², turns the label to red.  This alerts patients to the fact that the syringe has been used once and is therefore no longer sterile. 

Safer injection practice – a World Health Organisation key priority 

Dr David Swann - University of Huddersfield Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved if the practice of reusing syringes could be drastically curtailed and the World Health Organisation has made safer injection practice one of its key priorities.  

In the autumn of 2013, Dr Swann’s syringe project was shortlisted for the People’s Choice Award for the latest INDEX: Design to Improve Life Awards, arguably the world’s most prestigious design contest.  Publicity arising from this – including a feature by news giant CNN – meant that Dr Swann was contacted by commercial parties in countries ranging from the USA to India, including Nepal, the Dominican Republic, South Africa and Nigeria, as well as European countries. 

Dr Swann – who is a Reader in Design and the Subject Area Leader for Product Design and Interior Design at the University of Huddersfield’s School of Art and Design – worked closely with Professor Andrew Mills, of Queen’s University Belfast, who provided expert advice on colour changing ink technologies.

“The goal is to add patient safety value to an ordinary disposable syringe through the adoption of super-frugal technologies,” said Dr Swann. 

World Design Impact Prize 

The ABC Syringe is one of three projects that have been shortlisted for the 2014 World Design Impact Prize.  Dr Swann has made a speciality of using his product design skills to solve healthcare challenges.  An earlier project – the creation of a modern nursing bag made of non-permeable white plastic, much easier to cleanse of bacteria – made the shortlist for the 2011 INDEX: Design to Improve Life awards, for which he attended a glittering ceremony in Copenhagen. 

Later – thanks to Dr Swann’s link with the awards scheme – the travelling INDEX design exhibition made its sole UK stopover at the University of Huddersfield’s campus. 

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