Joining forces in the fight against meningitis: one year on from the MRF and CoMO merger

April 2022

For almost 30 years we have been bringing together people and expertise to defeat meningitis and septicaemia wherever it exists.

We do this by forming partnerships to combine knowledge and sharing expertise to create a stronger voice of influence to bring about positive change.

In 2021, united by a common goal to defeat meningitis, we strengthened our existing close working relationship with the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO) through a merger agreement.

Twelve months on, we look take a closer look at CoMO, the organisation that is now part of the Meningitis Research Foundation, and reflect on all that has been achieved so far.

CoMO - MRF merger

Who are CoMO and what do they do?

CoMO is an international membership organisation working to reduce the incidence and impact of meningitis worldwide. Bringing together patient groups, health professionals, organisations and those affected by meningitis from all over the world, they share knowledge and expertise in the fight against disease.

How are CoMO and Meningitis Research Foundation connected?

Both organisations have worked collaboratively for many years, sharing the same vision and common goals. In 2021, the close working relationship was taken a stage further when CoMO became a part of the Meningitis Research Foundation. Together we have a crucial role to play in the delivery of the World Health Organization Global Road Map to Defeat Meningitis by 2030.

Meningitis Research Foundation, a driving force in leading the call to defeat meningitis, is contributing to the Advocacy and Engagement pillar of the initiative. By joining forces, the merger has maximised opportunities to ensure effective delivery of these programmes of work to reduce the impact of the disease globally.

Through collaboration with CoMO and its members, we will play an essential role in helping to amplify patient voices and delivering community-led awareness campaigns to create a greater understanding of the lifelong impact of the disease.

What has been achieved in the last 12 months as a result of the merger?

Meningitis is a global health issue that can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime. But awareness of the disease varies between countries. Vaccines to prevent meningitis are also not yet included in all routine vaccination programmes.

CoMO has been seeking to address these issues through international advocacy campaigns. They also support members with tools and resources they need to show the impact of the disease on a global level.

The merger has created further opportunities to share knowledge and expand existing networks, with CoMO membership rising by 13%. There are now 90 members from 43 different countries, with new members in the USA, Indonesia, Brazil and Uganda.

Just one recent area of focus has been World Meningitis Day (in 2022 on October 5th). In 2021 efforts focused around the need for action, highlighting the devastating impact of the disease and encouraging everyone to play their part in defeating it.

As part of the campaign, CoMO spearheaded the collation of compelling video testimony from around the world. Among those who contributed included patient advocates, researchers and representatives from the WHO taskforce helping to deliver the Road Map, who shared what defeating meningitis would mean to them.

CoMO also created a comprehensive toolkit, with infographics, fact sheets and testimonials of people's experiences of the disease, in a variety of different languages to raise awareness and sharing potentially life-saving information with millions of people worldwide.

Other achievements included bringing people together virtually from around the world for the annual global members’ conference. The event, which took place online for the first time due to pandemic restrictions, was run over three days with sessions at varying times to accommodate different time zones. More than 50 attendees from 19 countries came together to share knowledge and best practice through workshops, question and answer sessions and updates on the disease and the global road map.

What can we expect in the next 12 months?

Over the coming months a key focus for the CoMO team will be centred around involving members in the WHO Global Road Map to defeat meningitis by 2030. An essential part of this work includes growing the

existing network, by identifying new members and helping to set up new organisations, to strengthen patient voices further.

Wherever you are in the world, if you are interested in helping to raise awareness of meningitis globally through the sharing of knowledge, resources and expertise, why not find out more about becoming a member?

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About the author

Elaine Devine
Director of Advocacy, Communications and Support

I’m Elaine and I joined MRF in January 2022. I previously worked for a global research publisher as Digital Communications Director, leading a team of specialists in campaigning, social media, multimedia, PR and digital content (all of which is very similar to what I am now doing at MRF).

I’ve worked in the worlds of research, education and charities for all of my career, experience which marries perfectly with my role at MRF. I’ve won national prizes for my campaign work, written for outlets from The Guardian to academic journals, created podcasts and white papers, ran researcher workshops and presented at more national and international conferences than I can remember. I’m very much looking forward to bringing all of this experience to MRF and seeing what we can achieve as we strive to defeat meningitis by 2030.

Tel: 0333 405 6262