Major progress has been made in the global fight against meningitis in the past 20 years, but a coordinated effort is needed to save lives. Now, supported by the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their inclusion of ‘affordable vaccines and medicines for all’, there is a new opportunity to look forward to 2030 and ask – what will the meningitis story be by 2030 and how do we get there?
Meningitis Research Foundation organised a three-day residential summit in the UK of leading experts in meningitis and septicaemia to start a process to create an action plan to 2030 aligned to the SDGs. It shared different perspectives on what a 2030 vision could be like and how we might get there. It was an inclusive process with strong representation from countries most affected.
This unique opportunity created a strong call for global action and encouraged discussion between senior health officials, policy makers, scientists and clinicians from countries affected by meningitis, as well as representatives from WHO, UNICEF, PATH, Médecins Sans Frontières, CDC, Gavi Vaccine Alliance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other global health organisations, patient groups and pharmaceutical companies.
WHO representatives have announced that they will answer the call, putting meningitis high on the global agenda and coordinating progress in five areas. The focus would be to work on eliminating epidemic meningitis from the meningitis belt and examining the potential for a more global agenda as identified by the meeting. Specifically it will focus on:
- Ensuring long-term protection against MenA for the entire at-risk population in the meningitis belt, building on the success of recent vaccination campaigns.
- Improving outbreak response and control of meningococcal epidemics in the meningitis belt, as well as management of patients and survivors.
- Enhancing disease surveillance in the meningitis belt.
- Promoting development and public health use of affordable vaccines that tackle different causes of meningitis in the meningitis belt.
- Calling for meningitis expertise to address globally the many different causes of meningitis around the world.