'Pledge to Protect' launched on World Meningitis Day
24 April 2013
In support of World Meningitis Day, the UK’s leading meningitis charities - Meningitis Research Foundation, Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK have joined forces to call on parents to educate themselves about bacterial meningitis, an illness that kills more children under five in the UK than any other infectious disease.
With the UK highlighted as one of the top three meningitis hotspots in Europe, the charities are calling for parents to ‘Pledge to Protect’ their children by learning about the signs and symptoms of meningitis and spreading the word through their joint campaign Meningitis: Keep Watching.
The UK has some of the highest rates of bacterial meningitis (the type that can kill within hours) in Europe, so the need to spread the word about the disease is more urgent than ever.
Anyone can catch bacterial meningitis at anytime. As many as one in ten of those infected will die and up to one in five survivors will be left with after-effects including brain damage, amputations and hearing loss which may require ongoing care.
The charities launched Meningitis: Keep Watching last September, prompted by concerns that many parents mistakenly think their children are protected against all types of the disease. The campaign has already attracted a great deal of support from parents through the Meningitis: Keep Watching Facebook page (www.meningitiskeepwatching.co.uk
), along with backing from the Picturehouse cinema chain and leading parenting website Netmums; however World Meningitis Day provides another opportunity to talk to parents about meningitis and engage them in spreading awareness.
Despite successful vaccination programmes in the UK, children are currently not protected against Meningitis B – the most common form of bacterial meningitis in the UK . This can lead to parents missing the symptoms and delays in seeking medical advice, which can cost lives. The scale of the problem is highlighted in research showing that more than two-thirds of parents in the UK are unaware that current vaccinations do not protect their children from all forms of the disease.
“One of the biggest myths is that children are protected against all types of meningitis through vaccination and this is, in reality, not the case”, says Dr Nelly Ninis, Consultant Paediatrician at St Mary’s Hospital London and supporter of the Meningitis: Keep Watching
campaign. “Children are only protected against some types of meningitis so parents must be aware of the signs and seek urgent medical help as this disease can maim or kill within hours.” Meningitis: Keep Watching
is now urging parents and families to ‘Pledge to Protect’ their children from meningitis by:
• Encouraging their friends to be meningitis aware by sharing an awareness film
• Learning more about the signs and symptoms of meningitis
• Ensuring their child’s vaccinations are up to date
“We cannot stress enough the importance of knowledge and awareness when it comes to meningitis”, said the meningitis charities in a joint statement. “Around six families a week lose a loved one to this devastating disease and we are working hard to help families avoid having to face this horrific situation. We are appealing to parents to visit the Keep Watching Facebook page and learn about meningitis and take the Pledge to Protect. This information could ultimately save lives.”
'To Pledge to Protect' visit: www.meningitiskeepwatching.co.uk About World Meningitis Day
World Meningitis Day is organised by CoMo
(Confederation of Meningitis Organisations) and is a global organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, the urgency for treatment and for prevention through vaccination. It has grown over the past three years and now reaches across the globe from North and South America, through Europe to the Middle East, into the Indian subcontinent and throughout South East Asia and the Far East to Australia.
This year’s campaign is calling on governments to include meningitis preventing vaccines in their country’s National Immunisation Programme. CoMo have launched a petition called ‘Join Hands against meningitis’ asking people to show support for meningitis vaccines and help reduce the number of people affected by the disease. Anyone wishing to sign the global petition can do so by visiting: www.comomeningitis.org
Meningitis: Keep Watching and World Meningitis Day are sponsored by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited.