New report calls for a global plan to defeat meningitis

21 Sep 2017
New report calls for a global plan to defeat meningitis
  • Report includes new meningitis priorities from the World Health Organisation
  • Coordinated global action is needed - around half a million children under five still die of meningitis and sepsis worldwide every year and nearly 12 million people in the world suffered from a disability as a result of having meningitis between 2000 and 2015
A global meeting of experts organised by Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) and Wilton Park has renewed global efforts to help defeat meningitis. The meeting report, published today, highlights that more needs to be done to defeat meningitis – it is estimated that around half a million children under five still die of meningitis and sepsis worldwide every year.

In May 2017, MRF called together over 50 global experts for a three-day meeting to shape a vision towards defeating meningitis and septicaemia. 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.

The report calls for a new plan for meningitis that inherits the success of the past two decades and looks to address the challenges of the next 13 years to 2030. It includes key priorities from the World Health Organization (WHO) to answer the call by eliminating meningitis epidemics from the ‘meningitis belt’ in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 and an intent to work with partners, including MRF, in a bid to extend the scope to other countries around the world, and to help tackle the many different causes of meningitis.

The report identifies new opportunities to reduce the impact of meningitis, including: the need to  ensure sustainable vaccine supply for epidemic and routine programme; a new and long overdue rapid diagnostic test to improve speed of treatment; ensuring healthcare staff are adequately trained to deal with meningitis; and improved support for survivors and families.

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation said: “Meningitis travels the world and does not respect country borders. For example, the new deadly strain of MenW in the UK travelled from South America. We called for this important meeting because no matter where we live, meningitis will only be defeated with coordinated global action. We are delighted to hear WHO’s new priorities to eliminate epidemics where they have the highest burden and we look forward to working with them to discuss plans for all main types of meningitis and the rest of the world too.”
 

"There has been major progress towards the elimination of epidemic meningitis but we need incredible perseverance to take it to a sustainable level." - Marie-Pierre Preziosi.

Marie-Pierre Preziosi, WHO Flagship Projects Lead, Initiative for Vaccine Research, said: “There has been major progress towards the elimination of epidemic meningitis but we need incredible perseverance to take it to a sustainable level. WHO will provide coordination and leadership to develop a multicomponent roadmap with partners that aims to sustainably eliminate epidemic meningococcal meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030. It will also help reduce non epidemic disease. In addition, this meeting has helped to broaden the scope of the plan by providing a more global and comprehensive discussion.” “We understand that putting meningitis high on the global agenda, setting a global vision and strategy, and working at the interface between many disciplines could be a very powerful incentive to reach the next level of disease control to transform our world and leave no one behind by 2030.”
 
Sir Brian Greenwood, one of the world’s leading experts in meningitis and malaria over the past 40 years, opened the meeting and said: “Meningitis is a multifaceted problem and a multidisciplinary approach is needed. We need a global plan for meningitis through to 2030, along the lines of the existing Malaria Technical Action Plan that was ratified by the World Health Assembly. Meningitis needs to be pushed up the agenda at every level and now is the time to do it. A global effort against meningitis and septicaemia will contribute towards delivering the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goals and their inclusion of ‘affordable vaccines and medicines for all.”

Download the report in English
Download the report in French
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