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Nations Unite Against Meningitis

29 May 2015

On April 24th 2015, the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO), along with its member organisations and supporters, united to celebrate the 7th World Meningitis Day. Dedicated events, social media campaigns, interviews with local media and many other activities were used to raise awareness of this deadly disease and to encourage people across the globe to join the fight against meningitis.

World Meningitis Day is an opportunity for individuals and organisations to promote the inclusion of vaccinations into government programmes and to demonstrate the importance of continued scientific research. In addition to its appeal to governments, World Meningitis Day aims to raise awareness of meningitis symptoms and after effects with members of the public.

Meningitis is a potentially fatal disease, where the lining of the brain and spinal cord become inflamed. It can also be associated with life-threatening blood infection, sepsis. It can be caused by a virus, bacteria or other microorganisms but bacterial meningitis is by far the most dangerous, being responsible for more than 300,000 young deaths each year (1). Of those that survive, approximately 25% are left with disabilities, this equates to around 750,000 people each year. 

Since the last World Meningitis Day there have been great advances in the fight against meningitis. A vaccine against meningococcal meningitis type B was used for university outbreaks in the USA and approved for the immunisation schedule for infants in the UK.  A new vaccination against meningococcal meningitis type A continued to be rolled out in Sub-Saharan Africa under the Meningitis Vaccine Project, and over 217m people have now been immunised in 16 countries (2). We are making progress towards our goal of a world without meningitis but there is still a great deal to be done. There are still millions without access to life-saving vaccines and without the knowledge of what to do when faced with the devastating disease.

Bruce Langoulant, President of CoMO, commented: “World Meningitis Day provides an important focal point on the calendar for meningitis. In an increasingly busy world it is vital that all of us ensure meningitis is better represented and better understood so more young lives can be saved as each year goes by.”

We will continue to work towards the eradication of meningitis, because we can and we should. If you would like more information on World Meningitis Day or what you can do to help please contact our Admin and Marketing Officer: samanthar@meningitis.org.



References

Global, regional, and national age–sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, The Lancet , Volume 385 , Issue 9963, 117 – 171Meningitis Vaccine Project. 2015. Meningitis Vaccine Project. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.meningvax.org/. [Accessed 27 May 15].

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