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Taiwanese biotech company invests in UN drive to cut infant deaths


(Source: Focus Taiwan 2014-3-10)

A Taiwanese biomedical company announced Sunday that it will invest NT$30 million (US$991,560) in a United Nations program to reduce deaths of infants born in unhygienic circumstances in developing nations.

Vectorite Biomedical Inc., a developer of cancer-treating cellular immunotherapies, will team up with childrens welfare group Kiwanis Taiwan to take part in the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) program to eradicate deaths from maternal and neonatal tetanus.

The swift and painful killer disease killed 58,000 newborns in 2010 alone, according to UNICEF.

The investment will be directed at preventing deaths of babies, who have a 70-100 percent rate of dying once infected in developing countries, where one baby dies every nine minutes on average from the disease.

Babies get infected primarily because their mothers are not vaccinated against the disease or because babies are delivered in places that are not thoroughly sterilized.

The main way to attack maternal and neonatal tetanus is by immunizing women against the condition, according to Vectorite Biomedical Chairman Pan Chun-you.

A child born to a woman vaccinated against tetanus is also protected from the disease in the first few months of its life, according to UNICEF.