Meningitis Progress Tracker

Tracking progress towards defeating meningitis - visualising the story of meningitis for the first time

Meningitis is a globally important disease, especially for children under five. Many of the major bacterial pathogens that cause meningitis also cause sepsis. They can occur together or separately and can be very difficult to distinguish.

According to the United Nations 2017 Levels and Trends in Child Mortality Report, meningitis and neonatal sepsis (sepsis in new-born babies) are together the second biggest infectious killer of children aged under 5 globally. However, progress in tackling meningitis lags behind that of other infectious diseases, according to an analysis published in the scientific journal The Lancet Neurology

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal to end preventable deaths of new-borns and children under five years of age will not be possible without a concerted effort to defeat meningitis. Access to accurate data that tell the full story of meningitis will help national governments and inter-governmental institutions, such as the agencies of the United Nations, to create informed health strategies and monitor their success.

Currently, we know that data on the global meningitis burden are hard to interpret. This is due in part to there being multiple causes, and because the data come from many different sources. With the Meningitis Progress Tracker, we will be able to track national and global progress toward defeating the disease. For the first time, we bring ‘the story of meningitis’ together into one place.
Meningitis and neonatal sepsis kill more children than malaria, measles and TB combined. Across all ages there were almost 500,000 estimated deaths in 2017.
Meningitis and neonatal sepsis are rarely listed as health priorities in major global health strategies and frameworks. This absence influences the priority that countries place on addressing the disease, budgets they allocate to it, and the wider funding available to them for this work. As a result, progress towards defeating meningitis has been slow. According to one estimate, between 1990 and 2017, meningitis deaths in children under 5 fell by just 53% compared to 87% for measles, 93% for tetanus and 70% for diarrhoea.

To accelerate progress, the World Health Organization (WHO) set up a technical taskforce to co-ordinate the development of a global roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030. As a member of the taskforce, we investigated the global and regional burden of meningitis for the WHO Baseline Analysis, to show the extent of the problem and decide how to address it. We highlighted major differences between modelled estimates and deficiencies in data underlying these estimates in low and middle income countries.
Following this, we developed the prototype Meningitis Progress Tracker (MPT 1.0), a tool which, for the first time, brings together data from diverse sources on meningitis cases and deaths, prevention, surveillance, treatment and impact on quality of life all in one place, aligned with the five pillars of the WHO Defeating Meningitis by 2030 global roadmap.

As the tool chosen by WHO and the taskforce to monitor Roadmap progress, the tracker will play a vital role in focussing interventions where they are needed to combat 6 million cases and nearly 500,000 deaths due to meningitis and neonatal sepsis per year, and so contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal vision to leave no one behind.
The prototype, MPT 1.0, launched on World Meningitis day 2019 has proven to be a valuable tool, attracting over 33,000 views, with users from 73 countries including epidemiologists, academics, global health specialists, patient groups, public health officials and funders.
This newly released interim version, MPT 2.0 now includes available estimates of cases, incidence, deaths and mortality in all ages, for meningitis and neonatal sepsis and for the major bacterial causes: the meningococcus, pneumococcus and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib). It presents a global overview as well as regional and country breakdowns.  In addition to data on pneumococcal and Hib vaccines, it now shows meningococcal vaccine schedules around the world, including detailed information on the control of meningococcal A in the African meningitis belt. It features real surveillance data from the African meningitis belt, and animations showing seasonal changes and evolving epidemics.   A new country profiles page has been developed in prototype to enable countries to monitor their progress against the Roadmap. Users can interact with the site to create the visualisations most relevant to them.

Over the coming year we will continue developing the tracker, adding new features and routinely updating global estimates and vaccine data as available. We aim to include estimates of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) - an important neonatal cause of meningitis and sepsis, incorporate more real surveillance data from around the world, and add new indicators of progress on diagnosis, treatment and aftercare for meningitis.

As a single accessible source of the most comprehensive, up-to-date meningitis data, the tracker will not only enable progress against the Roadmap to be tracked, but also facilitate scrutiny to enable ministries of health and global health agencies to address problems and focus effort where it is needed most, empower civil society to advocate for improvement, and provide a teaching tool for academics training the current generation of public health doctors and epidemiologists.

This version of the Meningitis Progress Tracker has been made possible through tremendous support and technical skill from the developers Keytree, a generous grant of software licenses and training from the Tableau Foundation, and grants from Pfizer, Sanofi Pasteur and GSK.

What would you like to see in MPT 3.0? Give us your feedback.

We need your help to develop the next phase of the Meningitis Progress Tracker. How can we improve it? What is missing that we should include? Please submit your comments on the ‘feedback’ page of the tracker itself (above).

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We call for positive change as a united voice against meningitis and septicaemia, and a dedicated champion for those it affects.
Meningitis is a deadly and complicated disease - so is it actually possible to truly "defeat" it? Find out here.
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£6/€7.20/$8 pays for a 30 minute call from a trained support officer.

They listen to the issues faced by someone struggling with the impact of meningitis, and provide detailed information and support.
Claire Wright
Evidence and policy manager (prevention)

Hello I'm Claire.

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