MRF members petition 10 Downing Street for new meningitis vaccines
14 September 2012
Double amputee Robbie Jones (5) from Durham, Paralympic commentator Diana Man, from Tunbridge Wells and Onaiza Fice from Harrow in London, are heading to 10 Downing Street so they can hand in a petition calling on the UK Government to pursue the widest and earliest implementation of vaccines to prevent all types of meningitis and septicaemia.
Robbie, his mum Jill, Diana and Onaiza have all worked tirelessly, alongside other supporters, collecting names for Meningitis Research Foundation’s ‘Counting the Cost of Meningitis’ campaign and now the nearly 17,000 strong petition is going to Number 10.
MRF’s ‘Counting the Cost of Meningitis’ project estimates the life-long costs to the UK Government of medical treatment and ongoing care for a person seriously disabled by the disease are around £3million.
Robbie contracted meningococcal B septicaemia at 23 months in 2008. Jill said: “When Robbie was ill the doctor said it was one of the worst cases he had ever seen. As a result Robbie had to have both legs amputated and his fingertips have fallen off. We had heard about meningitis but had never seen the effects it could have. It’s been our worst nightmare which is why we have been collecting signatures in our region. We want to ensure everyone is aware of the dangers of the disease and that every child is protected against all types of meningitis and septicaemia.”
Diana contracted meningococcal septicaemia in November 2007 and had both lower legs and all the fingers on her right hand amputated. She also now has epilepsy.
She said: “I am so pleased to have been involved with the ‘Counting the Cost of Meningitis’ campaign. I wholeheartedly support it because I survived the disease and think it’s really important to highlight the difficulties myself and others face in the future - physically, emotionally and financially. It’s important we prevent this happening to anyone else by making sure a vaccine is made available. Nearly 17,000 people signed this petition. They know it’s vitally important our children are protected against all types of meningitis and septicaemia. Let’s hope the weight of public opinion encourages the Government to act.”
Onaiza’s month old baby son Zain died suddenly from septicaemia in November 2000. She was supported by MRF and was appointed as an Ambassador for the charity in London earlier this year, working with her local community to raise awareness and funds.
She says: “We were shocked how rapidly this disease could take the life of a perfectly healthy baby that was alert and happy only one day earlier. It’s so important people know about these diseases and the need for vaccination.”
Meningitis and septicaemia affect around 3,600 people in the UK and Ireland annually. They are deadly diseases that can strike anyone without warning, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering effects as severe as deafness, brain damage and loss of limbs.
Christopher Head, Chief Executive of MRF said: “I am delighted Robbie, Jill and Diana could join us at Number 10. They have worked so hard on our behalf to get names on our petition. Their passion is typical of so many of our members who have been affected by these diseases. There is currently no vaccine for meningococcal B disease which is responsible for the majority of cases of disease in the UK and Ireland. Thanks to our members and donors, we have helped fund research into the discovery and testing of potential MenB vaccines - which we estimate could prevent more than three cases a day and reduce the potential burden of these diseases on thousands more families in the future.”
In addition to the petition, Monday 17 September also sees the start of the charity’s Meningitis Awareness Week, which is designed to raise awareness of the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, because not all strains of the diseases are vaccine preventable yet.ENDSMedia Contacts:
For further information or to speak to the case studies please contact Becky Pierce-Jones on 01454 280416/ firstname.lastname@example.org or Jane Futrell on 01454 280406 / email@example.com Notes to Editors: More information on Meningitis Awareness Week 2012 and case studies
- Meningitis Research Foundation is currently funding 17 research projects into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia. We have spent over £16.5 million on research since we launched in 1989.
- We spend around £1m annually supporting those affected and raising awareness. Our Freefone helpline – 080 8800 3344 – provides information to the general public and health professionals.
- Donations can be made online but people can also donate £5 from their mobile phone by texting GIFT00 £5 to 70070
- We are also currently working with two other UK-based meningitis charities on the Meningitis - Keep Watching campaign which uses a short film and social networking to raise awareness among parents of small children. Visit: www.meningitiskeepwatching.co.uk