Rethinking The Syringe: Interview With SafePoint’s Marc Koska

Rethinking The Syringe: Interview With SafePoint’s Marc Koska
Design & Architecture

Designer and non-profit founder fights unsafe injections by redesigning the syringe.

Plus Aziz
  • 9 march 2011

SafePoint’s founder Marc Koska has been searching for a solution to the problem that effects Asia and Africa, killing scores of people on a daily basis. The statistics are staggering. According to SafePoint’s site, people are unaware of how deadly re-purposing syringes is for patients. Kids can be injected by the same syringe already used 30-100 times. On a yearly basis, this leads to 230,000 HIV infections, 21 million Hepatitis infections, and 1.3 million deaths.

PSFK caught up with Marc to discuss his organization and recent push for legislative change in developing nations:

What are you working on right now?

I am concentrating on campaigning for legislative change in Pakistan and Tanzania through SafePoint. This will set the rules for the coming years, but at the same time providing evidence of reuse through undercover footage and public information films which we donate to the Government for distribution.

How did SafePoint come to fruition?

It came about because the product was not enough by itself to guarantee that the public got safe injections. The developing world public was in need of information as well so they could demand safe injections as well as being offered safe. Do you see what I mean – we had to create a sandwich!

Give us some insight into your creative process and how you designed a safer needle.

Always from the brief that it a) had to cost the same, b) had to be able to be made on existing machinery and c) be used in the same way.

What trend makes you optimistic about the future?

Well, I am cautious about the increase in Social Entrepreneurship as an activity and a buzz word, not because it isn’t a great trend, but because it isn’t fully understood I believe. Not only is the definition imprecise to me but also there is a huge range of activities being shoe horned into the subject. Having said that, at least it exists and it is growing massively. When I started we didn’t even have the phrase!

Do you feel that transparency is on the rise?

I don’t actually, but I am really encouraged that it is creeping into my field and others and hope it does take hold. After the banking crisis we do not see anymore openness in that sector, and I think the same with International AID and not for profits. But there are examples such as KIVA, where the connection between the lender and the borrower comes with a photograph. The world needs a massive change on this subject, but not sure we will see it sometime soon. I would like to make more and more of an example in my sector with transparency, and am working on highlighting this right now. So stay tuned!

Where do you go to find inspiration?

My inspiration comes from kids, especially my own, and any product or process that focuses on quality rather than quantity. I love to travel, and finding well made local products is a passion of mine. So much stuff around the world is the same, and localization has diminished, but finding something that is hand produced beautifully with care, is special. Wish there was more!

Thanks Marc!

Marc Koska


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