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New global initiative to defeat meningitis

Wednesday September 29th 2021

A new global strategy on meningitis has been launched, with the aim of preventing over 200,000 deaths each year.

This World Health Organization-led initiative, launched yesterday, represents the first ever global strategy on meningitis. Called 'The Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030', it was developed by a broad coalition of partners involved in meningitis prevention and control.

At a virtual event hosted in Geneva, WHO speakers outlined the goals, predominantly to eliminate epidemics of bacterial meningitis, to reduce deaths by 70%, and halve the number of cases.

A key feature of the strategy is to widen access to vaccines to protect against meningitis, including meningococcal, Haemophilus influenzae type b and pneumococcal vaccines.

Meningitis epidemics tend to occur most commonly in the so-called Meningitis Belt, across 26 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO said: “Wherever it occurs, meningitis can be deadly and debilitating; it strikes quickly, has serious health, economic and social consequences, and causes devastating outbreaks.

“It is time to tackle meningitis globally once and for all - by urgently expanding access to existing tools like vaccines, spearheading new research and innovation to prevent, detecting and treating the various causes of the disease, and improving rehabilitation for those affected.”

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, also of the WHO, added: “More than half a billion Africans are at risk of seasonal meningitis outbreaks but the disease has been off the radar for too long.

“This shift away from firefighting outbreaks to strategic response can’t come soon enough. This roadmap will help protect the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of families who every year fear this disease.”

[WHO Roadmap]

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Child Health | World Health

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