To mark the first World Meningitis Day since the adoption of the Global Roadmap for Defeating Meningitis by 2030, campaigners are taking to social media urging decision-makers to work with them to tackle the disease.
The Roadmap, adopted last November, aims to defeat meningitis through a five-point plan covering: prevention and epidemic control; diagnosis and treatment; disease surveillance; support and care for people affected by meningitis; and advocacy and engagement.
For its part, the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO), a part of the Meningitis Research Foundation, has developed a simple four-step campaign empowering ordinary people to raise awareness of the action plan among local policymakers.
Meningitis is a medical emergency that occurs when there’s an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is often mistaken for other diseases like malaria, the flu, or even Covid-19, but it can kill someone in hours.
Meningitis can strike anyone, with babies, young adults (16-23), older people and the immuno-compromised being at particular risk. For children under 5 years old, meningitis and neonatal sepsis combined are the 2nd highest leading infectious cause of death.
According to the Meningitis Progress Tracker from the Meningitis Research Foundation, there were more than 8 million cases of meningitis globally in 2019, leading to 462,452 deaths.
For every person who has lost their life to meningitis, many more are affected, experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one or enduring after effects. This suffering is preventable.
Along with the toll the disease can take in terms of lives lost, it can have a devastating impact on individuals and families by causing life-long consequences. Between 20% and 40% of people who survive meningitis and sepsis have lifelong impairments such as hearing loss, brain damage, movement disorders and epilepsy. This in turn has been shown to impose a heavy burden on parents in particular.
As countries seek to rebuild from COVID-19 and strengthen defences against infectious diseases, World Meningitis Day is a timely reminder of the actions needed to #DefeatMeningitis.