20 December 2017
Written by Becky Parry
Solidarity is a powerful tool1 : from the collapse of apartheid in South Africa to the women’s suffrage movement, it has modified, shaped and indented human history. Defined by the United Nations as the union of interests, purposes or sympathies among members of a group, solidarity is fundamental to effecting long lasting social change.
"Solidarity is not the same as support. To experience solidarity, we must have a community of interests, shared beliefs and goals around which to unite… Support can be occasional. It can be given and just as easily withdrawn. Solidarity requires sustained, ongoing commitment.”– Bell Hooks (American author and social activist)
CoMO embodies solidarity in all that it does - we stand with our members and they stand with us; we join hands against meningitis and create a unified global community that has one voice and one message. Today, on International Human Solidarity Day, we celebrate how solidarity has helped us and our members prevent meningitis and support those who have been impacted by it.
World Meningitis Day
On April 24th, our members helped us to raise the global profile of meningitis with the public, health professionals and world leaders. Our member-selected 2017 theme - 24 Hours – Trust your instincts - highlighted that meningitis can kill within 24 hours, and that if you suspect meningitis, you should seek urgent medical attention. By carrying out awareness raising activities and getting involved in our social media campaign, CoMO members helped us share vital information with over 450,000 people.
Defeating Meningitis by 2030
In May 2017, Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) called together over 50 global experts for a three-day meeting to shape a vision towards defeating meningitis and septicaemia. Senior health officials, policy makers, scientists and clinicians from countries affected by meningitis, as well as representatives from global health organisations, patient groups and pharmaceutical companies all took part in the meeting. After the meeting, MRF asked organisations around the world to stand with them and campaign for WHO’s programme of work to list meningitis as a global priority. As a result, WHO have said that they will listen to concerns regarding meningitis and septicaemia, and that they intend to include a specific indicator to measure progress in this area in the future.
Mollarets Meningitis Awareness Day
On May 1st 2017, Mollarets Meningitis Association (MMA) organised the very first Mollarets Meningitis Awareness Day. MMA asked all supporters to seek a government proclamation acknowledging Mollarets Meningitis Awareness Day. By standing in solidarity with MMA, MMA’s supporters were able to bring visibility to this rare form of meningitis, its impact and the urgent need for increased research funding.
The Meningitis B Action Plan
After losing their daughters to meningococcal B meningitis, the founders of The Kimberly Coffey Foundation and The Emily Stillman Foundation have joined forces to launch a new campaign. The aim of The Meningitis B Action Plan is to share one key message: there are two different vaccines that can help protect against meningococcal disease - MenACWY and MenB. Co-founder Patti Wukovits said, “we realize that if we want everyone to hear this critical message about meningitis B, we can’t do it alone. Through the Meningitis B Action Project, our hope is that we will be able to build an army of advocates to help us spread our message as broadly as possible”.
“There is no power in the world that can stop the forward march of free men and women when they are joined in the solidarity of human brotherhood.”- Walter Reuther (American union leader)
While each campaign or movement listed above began with a single person or organisation, solidarity has enabled the impact, reach and success of each to be significantly magnified. While much more must still be done to reduce the incidence and impact of meningitis worldwide, by joining hands and standing together, we know that this will one day be possible.
Becky works at CoMO's Head Office in the UK and provides communications, event and administrative support. She studied Philosophy at the University of Sussex and has a Masters in Human Rights. Becky has a background in international development and has worked for a variety of charitable organisations throughout her career.