"I hope the meningitis flag can be something that the whole community affected by meningitis can rally around… to make sure that everybody finds out about meningitis and finds out what they can do to stop it happening." Jane Plumb, Chair of the CoMO Advisory Council and Chief Executive of Group B Strep Support
Today marks a new milestone in our global fight against meningitis, with the launch of a unique visual symbol to support the many and varied awareness-raising activities executed by every CoMO member across the world, every day: the Meningitis Flag.
In this blog post, we delve into the significance of the Meningitis Flag, its creation, and its potential impact.
What is the Meningitis Flag?
The Meningitis Flag is a powerful global initiative designed to raise awareness of the on-going fight against meningitis.
Meningitis has had highly effective awareness-raising campaigns for many years, but we have never had one unifying symbol to represent our fight (as other diseases do, such as breast cancer). The Meningitis Flag aims to change that, becoming a unifying visual representation of the efforts being made across the world to combat this infectious disease. It has been created for the community, by the community, and it aims to support all our work to galvanize action against meningitis across the world.
The Flag, and its associated campaign, is supported by para-athletes Ellie Challis, Théo Curin, and Davide Morana and the global pharmaceutical company Sanofi. The year-long campaign (running until the end of 2024) aims to increase public understanding of meningitis across the world.
Some of CoMO's Advisory Council, Regional Coordinators and the Meningitis Research Foundation and CoMO central team at the unveiling of the Meningitis Flag.
Read more, and watch the film about the creation of the Meningitis Flag, on the Meningitis Research Foundation newsroom.
Why launch the Meningitis Flag now?
Despite substantial progress in the last two decades, meningitis remains one of the world’s top infectious disease killers. The statistics surrounding meningitis underscore the urgency of every CoMO member’s work to raise awareness in their countries and communities:
Over 2.5 million people globally are affected by meningitis each year.
Tragically, 1 in 10 dies from meningitis.
2 in 10 survivors are left with life-changing disabilities, such as brain injury or limb loss.
Half of all meningitis-related deaths occur in children under the age of 5, although people of all ages can be affected.
Given the global push to increase immunization rates for infectious diseases (including meningitis) and the World Health Organization’s Global Road Map to Defeat Meningitis by 2030, the introduction of a unifying symbol for the meningitis movement couldn't be timelier.
Creating the Meningitis Flag
Earlier this year, CoMO's advisory council and regional coordinators and Meningitis Research Foundation and CoMO’s central team collaborated with the flag's designer, Laura Spring (who has her own personal connection to meningitis).
Drawing inspiration from their personal experience of, and connection to, meningitis, this diverse group took part in lively co-creation sessions. These sessions allowed participants to share their perspectives on what defeating meningitis symbolises, how the chosen symbol should mirror the vibrancy of every CoMO member’s awareness activities, and what aspirations we all had for it.
Representing ten nations and five continents, Brian Nambale, Christine Bennborn, Rhoda Omorodion Omoile, Jane Plumb, Elena Moya, Claytone Musungu, Patsy Schanbaum, Maureen Moore, Jason Bennett, Linda Gibbs, Ravi Kumar, Ghulam Mustafa and Sam Nye all generously contributed their time and expertise to the creation of the Meningitis Flag. They brought their views to the creative process, including their knowledge of the many CoMO members they work alongside, across the world.
What do the elements of the Meningitis Flag represent?
The Meningitis Flag represents three distinctive elements: a yellow semi-circle, a purple triangle, and a blue background. Each element aims to communicate a specific aspect of the meningitis movement:
Yellow semi-circle: symbolizes the patient, embodying hope and highlighting the significance of every individual's contribution to the cause.
Purple triangle: represents the care and support provided by families. Pointing upwards like an arrow, it signifies the urgency and optimism characterising the fight against meningitis.
Blue background: The sea of blue is a representation of our movement's steadfast determination to conquer meningitis, as demonstrated by every CoMO member.
How can I use the Meningitis Flag?
The meningitis flag is another tool in all our awareness-raising kits and is being supported by a global PR and social media campaign (which we hope you will be able to use in your own work).
We’ll be sharing coverage of the Flag, and the support gained for it, in the CoMO monthly newsletter and Global Member Facebook Group in the months to come, so you can see how this is building momentum. Alongside this, at the end of this year, we’ll create a simple suite of resources, that you can add to your social media, websites, awareness activity and material.
If you have events or activity planned for late 2023 (after World Meningitis Day) and 2024 and would like a physical flag to fly, or pin badges to wear, please contact email@example.com. If you are a CoMO member and have other ideas for how we can use the meningitis flag to raise even greater awareness of meningitis, then please share your ideas in the CoMO member Global Facebook Group.
Protect. Support. Defeat.
Let’s fly the meningitis flag.
Elaine Devine, Director of Communications and Engagement, Meningitis Research Foundation and CoMO