World Meningitis Day 2022: inspiring activities happening around the world this year
World Meningitis Day started when a group of people who had been affected by it decided that there should be a day dedicated to raising awareness about this life changing infection.
“In January 2009, CoMO met in London and set themselves a task: to coordinate the first World Meningitis Day. The aim was to bring together a global community of people affected by meningitis; to reach people with no knowledge of it; and to ensure no one learns about it for the first time when they are seriously ill with meningitis in hospital.”
Taken from the blog post, Introducing World Meningitis Day: What it is, why it matters and how to play your part.
Since then, individuals and organisations around the world have come together once a year (on top of their regular activities) to mobilise their communities and hold some incredible activities to raise awareness about meningitis. In the past, this has included radio interviews, television broadcasts, zumbathons, children’s book releases, reaching out to local policy makers and much more.
Let’s take a look at some of the innovative ways that CoMO’s incredible members are raising awareness about meningitis in commemoration of this year’s campaign:
Ambiguously Blind podcast in the U.S.A: World Meningitis Day edition
A member in Texas, John Grimes, is a meningitis survivor who experienced partial vision loss as well as other neurological impairments as a result of his experience. He now runs a podcast called Ambiguously Blind, where he talks to people who have been affected by meningitis or affected by partial or total vision loss.
For World Meningitis Day, John talks to Andy Marso, a fellow meningitis survivor. Andy, like John, lives with the permanent after effects of his battle with meningitis. He survived somewhat miraculously thanks to the fast action of a friend and local doctors which he discusses in his book, Worth the Pain: How Meningitis Nearly Killed Me, Then Changed My Life for the Better.
This Ambiguously Blind episode hears Andy and John talk about their experiences of meningitis alongside their experiences of life after meningitis, centering deeply on the overarching understanding that Andy outlines: “we are entitled to nothing but can accomplish anything.”
John explained that his podcast offers a “tremendous opportunity to connect with and be inspired by the extraordinary stories of seemingly normal people.” As he continues to navigate this journey, he hopes to “spread awareness about meningitis and give people the forum to express themselves, grow and work through the challenges they may be facing.”
His motto encompasses the idea that the world isn’t going to wait for him: “I will succeed when my desire exceeds the limits of my disabilities.”
An Informative Lecture in Japan
Japan Child Meningitis Organisation (JaCMO) has opted to host an in-person event this year, which is something they’ve missed greatly due to Covid-19 restrictions, so we’re very excited for them. Their event will be an open lecture held in Chiba city, Tokyo. It’ll be free to attend and held on October 9th with lecturer, Reiko Junma (Professor, Comprehensive Safety and Health Management Organisation, Chiba University) exploring the topic, "Did you know? Knowledge of infection control when travelling abroad or carrying out overseas assignments."
Translation: in the lecture, she will talk about the basics of infection control, including vaccination, so that you do not panic when studying abroad or on overseas assignments.
Holding public lectures that cover infection control in practical settings is a great way to spread the word about infectious diseases like meningitis and vaccines I.e. the most powerful measure available to prevent meningitis. . This is especially significant in countries like Japan, as Hajime from JaCMO notes, “this lecture is very important for sharing information about meningococcal diseases with audiences because most Japanese people do not know about the infection well.”
Raising awareness via sports in New Zealand
Next, let’s have a look at the unique idea that our member, Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand have got ready for the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union (MCRU), who will be showing their support by wearing socks with the Foundation’s logo in commemoration of World Meningitis Day.
The chairperson of the Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand, Gerard Rushton, lost his only daughter Courtenay to meningococcal meningitis in 2014, when she was only 16 years old. Gerard and his wife, Claire, have since campaigned to raise awareness about the devastating impacts that meningitis can have.
“It would be too easy to retreat into seclusion after losing a child but doing life till you find life again” is important to Gerard. This motive led him to take up the position of MCRU’s board person in 2015, not just because of his commitment to, and passion for, rugby, but also as a way of rediscovering purpose in life.