Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) and UNICEF, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund, have announced their continued commitment to defeating meningitis by renewing their partnership for a second year.
MRF and UNICEF are working together, and with other global health partners, to coordinate and deliver advocacy, communication and engagement initiatives in support of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Defeating Meningitis by 2030 Global Road Map.
Meningitis is a tragedy affecting the youngest people in our world, with young babies, children under five, and teenagers in the groups most at risk of contracting the deadly infection. Meningitis and neonatal sepsis together are the world's second biggest infectious disease killers of children under 5 yet meningitis is behind other diseases in the funding needed to prevent it and in progress to defeat it. The activities delivered through this partnership aim to help reverse this, contributing to UNICEF’s mission to support children worldwide to reach their full potential.
During the partnership’s first year MRF and UNICEF’s collaboration enabled the delivery of primary research into the communication needs of health workers in the meningitis belt and the establishment of an advocacy and engagement forum for international collaboration on meningitis. UNICEF’s support also assisted MRF to continue its development of the Meningitis Progress Tracker, the only openly available global data hub focused on monitoring and tracking the burden of meningitis and the progress being made towards defeating it.
MRF and UNICEF will continue to build on this work, developing and sharing research findings to support practitioners across the world, collaborating with a range of international partners on awareness campaigns and on national plans to defeat meningitis (including with MRF’s global member network, the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations), and adding the latest country data to the Meningitis Progress Tracker.
Ahmadu Yakubu, UNICEF Senior Advisor-Health, said, “It is time to tackle meningitis once and for all. We need to act decisively to strengthen primary health care and get routine immunization back on track, before more children face adverse health outcomes - or loss of life - inflicted by meningitis and other preventable infectious diseases. UNICEF is confident that this renewed partnership with MRF will help us defeat meningitis.”
Welcoming the news, Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of MRF, said, “I’m delighted to see MRF’s partnership with UNICEF continue. Our work together has already proved so valuable in our first year and I believe this will continue to build on such promising foundations. Combining our expertise in meningitis with global and country teams of like-minded and passionate advocates for change increases our chances of defeating this awful disease together. We look forward to our work together in the months and years ahead.”
The World Health Organization’s Defeating Meningitis by 2030 Global Road Map was approved by the seventy-third session of the World Health Assembly in November 2020, and sets out a comprehensive vision, “Towards a world free of meningitis”.
If the Road Map is achieved by 2030, 200,000 lives could be saved from bacterial meningitis each year and disability caused by the disease significantly reduced. Today, one in ten people who contract bacterial meningitis die and half of all meningitis deaths occur in children under five.