Global Campaign Targets Deadly Meningitis

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The Confederation of Meningitis Organisations urges all governments to offer protection through National Immunisation Programmes to mark World Meningitis Day.

Governments worldwide are being encouraged to take up the fight against meningitis by including vaccines that can protect communities against the disease in their National Immunisation Programmes.

The global campaign was launched today by the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO) to mark World Meningitis Day.

“Each year more than 1.7 million people are affected by various forms of meningitis with the most severe cases resulting in thousands of deaths and permanent, life changing disabilities,” said CoMO President Bruce Langoulant.

“Tragically, much of this suffering could be avoided because there are vaccines available that can protect children and adults from the devastating consequences of the disease.

“We’re urging communities worldwide to ‘Join Hands Against Meningitis’ by registering their support for governments to include available vaccines in their immunisation programs.

“Evidence over the last 20 years has proven beyond doubt that this is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the most severe forms of meningitis and its devastating impact.”

Meningitis is a potentially deadly inflammation of the brain and spinal cord that can result from a virus, bacteria or other microorganisms, and that can also be associated with the life-threatening blood infection, sepsis.

Bacterial meningitis is the most severe and common form and even with prompt diagnosis and treatment causes approximately 170,000 deaths globally each year and twice as many people to sustain permanent damage and disability.

In most cases this can be prevented with vaccines, however National Immunisation Programs worldwide are inconsistent in their inclusion of meningitis-preventing vaccines.

“Meningitis is a global issue that can affect anyone, anywhere and at any time yet the most serious forms can be prevented with vaccines, therefore saving innocent people from death and disability and their families from the resulting heartache,” said Mr Langoulant who is also the father of a meningitis survivor with significant disabilities.

“For many years now safe and effective vaccines have been used to protect against the three major causes of bacterial meningitis, commonly known as meningococcal, pneumococcal or Haemophilus influenzae type b or Hib.

“The Hib vaccine has been widely available for some time and this has caused Hib meningitis to be close to elimination.

“Sadly, this isn’t the case for the other causes of bacterial meningitis leaving all of us, and particularly children under the age of 5 and adolescents, at risk of contracting the disease.

“We urge governments worldwide to protect their citizens from this disease and add these vaccines to their National Immunisation Programs.”

To join the global effort to prevent meningitis and to learn more about World Meningitis Day activities taking place, visit the CoMO website: http://www.comomeningitis.org.

For information about the vaccines available, talk to a healthcare professional or to contact a CoMO member visit http://www.comomeningitis.org/join-us/find-a-member-in-your-country.

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Amy Sassella-Otley
Clarity Communications
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