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World Meningitis Day: Uniting globally to reduce the impact and incidence of meningitis

posted Apr 24, 2018, 2:17 AM by GAVI CSO   [ updated Apr 24, 2018, 2:19 AM ]
On April 24th, we will mark World Meningitis Day by joining hands with hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to share the message that #AllMeningitisMatters. 

Our campaign will highlight that:
  1. There are 4 different types of meningitis; bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic
  2. As there are several different strains of bacterial and viral meningitis, multiple vaccines are needed to help protect against it
  3. Because not all strains of meningitis are vaccine preventable, knowing the signs and symptoms of meningitis is crucial.
We hear all too frequently that people thought they or a relative were protected from meningitis because they had their ‘meningitis jab’, and so when the signs or symptoms of meningitis appear, meningitis is dismissed. Often, it is not until it is too late that many people discover that several vaccines are needed to protect against the most common strains of meningitis, and that not all types of meningitis are vaccine preventable. This World Meningitis Day, we will share[1] our key messages with hundreds of thousands of people and raise awareness that there are many different vaccines available to help protect against meningitis.
  
Meningitis can kill in less than 24 hours and affects more than 2.8 million people each year globally.
 
Even with prompt diagnosis and treatment, up to 20% of people with bacterial meningitis will die and up to 1 in 3 survivors will be left with life-long disabilities. Although currently available vaccines could prevent more than 90% of bacterial meningitis cases, many people do not have access to these potentially life-saving vaccines.
 
CoMO brings together 75 patient groups, health professionals, and meningitis survivors and their families from all over the world to reduce the impact and incidence of meningitis, and increase access to meningitis vaccinations. Many of the patient groups and individuals that we work with work tirelessly to:  
  • Lobby their government for better access to vaccines
  • Increase awareness of vaccine availability
  •  Promote the effectiveness and safety of vaccines in their local communities.
For example, in 2015, Asociación Española contra la Meningitis (AEM)[2], a Spanish patient group, successfully promoted the effectiveness, safety and need for a meningococcal B vaccine nationally. As a result[3], a Men B vaccine was made available in Spanish pharmacies.
 
After 18 months of campaigning[4] from the Meningitis Centre Australia (MCA)[5], a meningococcal ACWY vaccine is now on the National Immunisation Programme for 1 year olds. Following their advocacy success, MCA are now campaigning[6] for a Men B vaccination to be added to the State Immunisation Plan too.
 
Similarly, the Meningitis B Action Project[7] is a cross-country campaign based in America. The project works with parents, young adults, health professionals and educational institutions to raise awareness of two separate vaccines, Men ACWY and Men B, that help protect against the 5 most common strains of meningococcal disease.  
 
These are just a few examples. Every day, we and our members from all over the world stand together to reduce the impact and incidence of meningitis, and fight for better access to vaccinations; and this week, during World Immunisation Week, we ask you to stand with us and share that #AllMeningitisMatters.
 
The Confederation of Meningitis Organisations[8] (CoMO) is an international member organisation working to reduce the incidence and impact of meningitis worldwide. CoMO brings together 75 patient groups, health professionals, and meningitis survivors and their families from more than 30 countries to help prevent meningitis.
 

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