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Raising awareness of meningitis during COVID-19

Updated: May 22, 2020

Six Ideas for Digital Awareness-Raising Activities

As we are all aware, COVID-19 has disrupted lives all over the world, bringing countries to a standstill.

For meningitis advocacy groups, however, the need to raise awareness of the disease is more important than ever. Global health organisations and medical professionals[1] have warned against the potential rise of vaccine-preventable diseases like meningitis due to disruptions in immunisation services. Delays in receiving vaccines pose a serious threat to individuals, communities and health systems.

People are also reluctant to seek medical attention during the pandemic. In March in the UK (as in many other countries), visits to the Accident and Emergency department of hospitals fell to the lowest on record.[2]

As meningitis is a medical emergency and can kill in hours, a delay in seeking urgent medical attention could have disastrous consequences.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CoMO members have been faced with the challenge of continuing their vital work to raise awareness of meningitis, while adhering to the social distancing measures in their countries. This year, despite the odds, World Meningitis Day reached more people than ever across the world, with members harnessing what technology has to offer and exploring the vast possibilities of virtual events. In this blog, we share just some of our members’ activities around World Meningitis Day, although you can find out more about what CoMO members got up to here.

1. Social Media Competitions

Asociación Española contra la Meningitis (AEM), Spain

For World Meningitis Day this year, AEM embraced the challenge of raising awareness virtually, running a children’s art competition themed around health and disease prevention. As well as this, the organisation hosted a live work-out session with Davide Bartolo Morana (AEM Ambassador and meningitis survivor) and released a series of videos which asked people to imagine a world without meningitis. AEM’s fantastic efforts contributed to the huge success of the #diamundialdelameningitis hashtag, which reached 68.5 million people this year!

2. Webinars

Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV), Philippines

PFV held a webinar on World Meningitis Day to discuss updates on the Global Meningococcal Initiative. The talk was hosted by Prof Josefina Carlos of the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMC). Over 200 people attended the webinar! Watch it here.

3. Digital Graphics and Educational Resources

Meningitis B Action Project, USA

For World Meningitis Day this year, the Meningitis B Action Project raised awareness of meningitis by releasing a set of educational infographics that were shared as part of a social media campaign.

Patti and Alicia of the Meningitis B Action Project spoke about virtual awareness-raising:

"It’s a balance – COVID-19 is the obvious global health priority, but we also have a responsibility as advocates to keep other critical health topics like immunization top of mind. This World Meningitis Day, we adjusted by making it possible for our B-team to advocate virtually with social graphics. We also wanted to be sensitive to today’s reality, so we adapted our message: ‘Don’t forget your immunizations. Talk to your doctor about both the MenACWY and MenB vaccines and schedule a visit as soon as you feel comfortable.'"

4. Challenges

Meningitis Now, UK

For World Meningitis Da