The World Health Organization (WHO) has published its 10 global health challenges for 2019 which highlight the need for Meningitis Research Foundation’s (MRF) continued commitment to defeat meningitis wherever it exists.
Of the threats WHO highlight, many are connected with MRF’s vital work to improve the prevention, diagnoses and treatment of meningitis globally and to ensure those affected get the information and support they need.
WHO’s challenges for 2019 include:
Vaccine hesitancy - Reluctance or refusal to take up the offer of available life-saving vaccines threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. The reasons why people choose not to vaccinate are complex. WHO will support health workers to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines.
MRF is working on a global plan to defeat meningitis, which will include the need to provide accurate information to those who need vaccines.
Weak primary healthcare - Many countries do not have adequate primary health care facilities - a first point of contact for those who are ill.
WHO report that more than 22% of the global population live in places where a combination of challenges and weak health services leave them without access to basic care. For many families it’s not possible to call an ambulance when someone is seriously ill and the after care for someone affected by a disease like meningitis may not be available.
In 2019, WHO will work with partners to revitalise and strengthen primary health care in countries and continue to work to strengthen health systems.
MRF has been working in the UK, Ireland and Africa to ensure those who have early signs of meningitis are identified and given emergency care when needed.
Antibiotic resistance - The bacteria that can cause disease are becoming resistant to the antibiotics that are used to treat them, the more they are used. WHO is working to implement a global action plan to tackle the issue, which includes reducing infection. Antibiotics are at the forefront of tackling meningitis.
See MRF’s blog on the challenge of antibiotic resistance, here.
MRF has always stressed the importance of a coordinated effort to defeat meningitis and septicaemia around the world, as the disease passes from human to human without respect for national borders.
In 2018, WHO launched the Defeating Meningitis by 2030 initiative and MRF is delighted to be taking part in the taskforce behind it, with activities already underway this year.
MRF is working with partners in some of the areas worst affected by meningitis - the African countries known as the meningitis belt – to help improve health systems and health care for people affected by meningitis.
MRF will continue to advocate for vaccines for the people who need them most, in the UK, Ireland, and around the world. Vaccines prevent people from becoming ill with meningitis and reduce the need for treatment with antibiotics.
Working with WHO and partners to raise awareness of meningitis and the vaccines available will ensure that communities are equipped with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their families.
MRF’s global plan to defeat meningitis
WHO’s 10 threats to global health in 2019