Meet a Scientologist—Marc Koska’s Crusade to Save Lives
Tanzania has announced its commitment to eliminating the spread of blood-borne disease from syringe reuse, thanks to the work of Safepoint Trust founder and Scientologist Marc Koska.
In June 2011, Dr. Lucy Nkya, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare of Tanzania, announced her country’s commitment to make un-safe injections a thing of the past.
The announcement came as part of a meeting at which Marc Koska, founder of Safepoint Trust, presented Dr. Nkya with 400,000 “LifeSaver” auto-disable syringes—syringes that self-destruct after one use. The syringes will set the standard for safe injections in clinics and hospitals throughout the Lindi, Morogoro and Mwanza regions of Tanzania.
At the June meeting, Dr. Nkya announced Tanzania’s intention to become the first LifeSaver country.
LifeSaver is an initiative of Safepoint Trust that encourages all auto-disable syringe manufacturers to include a LifeSaver symbol on their products to guarantee patients safe injections.
Koska’s wife Anna was one of four mothers who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in October 2010 to raise the funds for this syringe donation and to launch a public awareness campaign with the motto: “Mara moja katika maisha, mara nguni ni kifo—a syringe used once is life, used twice is death.”
Koska began his crusade to stamp out the spread of blood-borne disease from syringe reuse after reading an article in 1984 that predicted the AIDS pandemic. He released his K1 Auto-Disable Syringe in 2001, an invention now credited with preventing more than 10 million fatal injections to date.
In 2005, Koska founded the Safepoint Trust—a nonprofit organization that educates politicians, medical professionals and patients in the developing world on the fatal consequences of syringe reuse. Koska and his team attend conferences, carry out media campaigns and produce hard-hitting videos that expose life-threatening health practices in clinics and hospitals where syringes are used over and over, infecting patients, many of them children, with HIV.
“Every year across Africa, more than 23 million injections are given which are already contaminated with blood from an HIV patient,” says Koska.
“Malaria kills approximately 1 million people a year. The reuse of syringes now exceeds that and kills 1.3 million people a year.”
Contending it is not simply a matter of economics, Koska states that for every dollar a hospital spends on auto-disable syringes, they save an estimated $280 that will otherwise go to treatment of patients they will infect through syringe reuse.
“A syringe costs 100 Tanzania shillings—about 5 cents,” says Koska. “The cost of a popular soft drink is five times that much. The solution isn’t money—it is knowledge.”
To make that knowledge universally available, Safepoint Trust carries out public awareness campaigns in India, Pakistan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana, with the message that misuse can be eliminated if the patient refuses injections from a used syringe.
Among the many honors Koska has received for his work are the British Inventors Society 2004 Invention of the Year Award, and the Order of the British Empire and the Queen's Award for Enterprise in 2006.
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