Every country, every age: Global impact of meningitis visualised for the first time

17 Sep 2020
Every country, every age: Global impact of meningitis visualised for the first time
Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) today launches a major update to the ‘Meningitis Progress Tracker’ which, for the first time, allows users to access meningitis data and estimates for every age group and every country in the world in one place. The tracker visualises key information about the six million new cases and nearly 500,000 deaths caused by meningitis and neonatal sepsis every year.

An earlier pilot version shared data for under-5-year-olds and has already been used by over 30,000 users in more than 70 countries. This has now been expanded upon to include all age groups, more data and improved functionality.

Meningitis and neonatal sepsis (sepsis in new-born babies) are devastating diseases that together kill more children than malaria, measles and TB combined. The tracker makes it easier to find data about cases, deaths, lifetime impact, surveillance networks and compare countries, regions and causes. It appeals to a wide range of users including academics, policy makers, researchers and people and families wanting to use good evidence for advocacy.

A screenshot of the Meningitis Progress Tracker.

The tracker has been developed to support the World Health Organization’s Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis, for which MRF is a key partner. The Roadmap identifies a set of ambitious goals, activities and milestones needed to achieve a vision where bacterial meningitis epidemics are eliminated; cases, deaths and disability are reduced; and quality of life after meningitis is improved. The roadmap is scheduled to go before the World Health Assembly for agreement by officials from countries around the world in November this year.

Vinny Smith, Meningitis Research Foundation Chief Executive said: “We are delighted that the Meningitis Progress Tracker has been chosen by the WHO and taskforce as the tool of choice to communicate progress we’re making against meningitis around the world.”

Linda Glennie, Director of Research, describing the advances, said: “Importantly, the tracker now includes data on cases, deaths, incidence and mortality for all age groups, for meningitis, neonatal sepsis, and specific estimates for three leading types of meningitis. Global and country-level vaccination against these three types of meningitis is also now shown.”

This enhanced tracker also demonstrates the impressive progress there has been to eliminate MenA (meningococcal group A) epidemics in Africa, as well as real surveillance data from the African meningitis belt. While this element is being developed further, it currently features animations and visualisations which depict seasonal changes and evolving outbreaks in the Meningitis Belt.

Another powerful addition, is a prototype country profiles page designed to empower countries to monitor their progress against the Roadmap through interacting with the data to create tailored visualisations.

This latest advance brings many benefits, but over the coming year, the tracker will be further developed, to add more real surveillance data from around the world, and new indicators of progress for diagnosis, treatment and after care for meningitis. Future plans also include the addition of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) – an important cause of meningitis and sepsis in newborn babies.
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