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Medicines will address health needs of underserved communities in the Dominican Republic and Central Asia

Millwood, VA, February 19, 2013

Global NGO Project HOPE announced that tens of thousands of people in the Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will receive crucial vaccines donated by MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Over one million doses of the Tetanus and Diphtheria (Td) vaccine will be distributed to underserved communities who are in need of the crucial vaccine. The Dominican Republic is holding a nationwide vaccination campaign in April, and the donated vaccine will support the Ministry of Health’s commitment to address public health needs. The medicines destined for Central Asia will be delivered in a humanitarian airlift operation by the U.S. Department of State.

“There is an urgent need in the developing world for free medicines to combat serious disease.  The vaccine donation by MassBiologics will help stem an outbreak of disease or minimize the symptoms of someone who has been exposed to a disease or virus.  In some cases, the Td vaccine will save lives,” said Pat Bacuros, Director, Gifts-In-Kind Development at Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization.

For over 100 years, MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School has worked to improve public health and make medicine for better lives,” said Michael F. Collins, MD, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “Today, an important part of our mission means taking a global view. The health needs of the developing world are enormous. Our capacity as a leading academic health sciences center to help meet those needs is exemplified by our ability to work with organizations like Project HOPE to positively impact the lives of people in need. MassBiologics answered the call two years ago, sending critically needed vaccine to earthquake victims in Haiti. Our public medical school is, once again, privileged to play a role in impacting public health around the globe.”

The Td vaccine was manufactured by the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s MassBiologics laboratories, which is the only non-profit, FDA-licensed manufacturer of vaccines and biologic products in the United States. Because of widespread vaccination, diphtheria and tetanus are not major health threats in the United States. In developing countries, however, many people are not fully immunized and the infections remain a serious and often deadly condition, particularly among children.

“Tetanus and Diphtheria continue to be serious threats to public health in many parts of our global community,” said Mark S. Klempner, MD, executive vice chancellor for MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “Tetanus is a particular risk to newborns in many developing countries.  By vaccinating pregnant women we can prevent disease and death among these babies and their mothers. The entire MassBiologics family who made this donation possible is thrilled to partner with Project HOPE to make Td vaccine available to people who, without this donation, would be vulnerable.” Dr. Klempner will travel to the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, February 19 to help administer the vaccine to patients.

Over the past five decades, Project HOPE has developed and instituted long-term solutions to health challenges in 123 countries; distributed nearly $2 billion in medicines, supplies and equipment; trained thousands of health care workers and mobilized communities for better health.

 

About Project HOPE

Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now provides medical training and health education, and conducts humanitarian assistance programs in more than 35 countries.

About MassBiologics

MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School is the only publicly owned, non-profit FDA-licensed manufacturer of vaccines and other biologic products in the United States. The laboratory was established in 1894 by the state Board of Health to produce diphtheria antitoxin. Since that time, the focus at MassBiologics has been to improve public health through applied research, development and production of biologic products. In 1997, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts transferred MassBiologics operations from the Department of Public Health to UMass Medical School to “maintain their public purpose, preserving their ability to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace and to maximize their value to the Commonwealth.” 

About the University of Massachusetts Medical School

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $250 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The mission of the Medical School is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the commonwealth and the world through pioneering education, research, public service and health care delivery with its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care. For more information, visit http://www.umassmed.edu/.

Media Contact:  Jim Fessenden Tel. 508-856-2000jame.fessenden@umassmed.edu

Media Contact

Geraldine Carroll Tel. 540.257.3746 gcarroll@projecthope.org

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