Immediate release: Green light for first-ever global plan to defeat meningitis

13 November, 2020

Press release: Green light for first-ever global plan to defeat meningitis

- Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030 endorsed at World Health Assembly

- First meningitis resolution to be approved by World Health Organization member states

- The roadmap map is a game-changer for people at risk of or affected by meningitis and has targets to improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment, surveillance, aftercare, support and advocacy

- Read the roadmap here: Defeating meningitis by 2030: a global road map

A significant step towards defeating meningitis was achieved today as the World Health Assembly agreed to take action to reduce the impact of the disease dramatically. The endorsement of a new global roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030 will help to eliminate epidemics and prevent cases the world over, as well as improving treatment, diagnosis and aftercare.

The ambitious roadmap sets out to tackle the leading causes of acute bacterial meningitis (meningococcus, pneumococcus, haemophilus influenzae and group B streptococcus).

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “This marks a momentous occasion for people affected by or at risk of meningitis – the first time the World Health Assembly has agreed on global goals to defeat the disease. This game-changing moment will help to save lives and ensure survivors of the diseases get the support they need to maximise their quality of life. People affected by meningitis have made significant contributions to this plan and have lent their voice to and inspired our campaigning. We are very grateful for their support.”

Meningitis is a universal public health challenge in countries around the world. Evidence published in The Lancet Neurology<> strengthened the call for a global plan. The analysis of estimates by Meningitis Research Foundation and health data experts showed that meningitis deaths reduced by just 21% globally between 1990 – 2016. In contrast, other preventable diseases such as measles, tetanus, and diarrhoea due to rotavirus saw declines of 93.0%, 90.7%, and 57.9%, respectively, suggesting that progress in meningitis could have been substantially faster. In 2017, estimates indicated that there were still 5 million new cases and 290 000 deaths globally from all types of meningitis that year. Of those affected by bacterial meningitis, around 1 in 10 will die, and over 1 in 5 will develop severe long term after-effects, such as deafness.

These startling statistics led to the creation of a taskforce to help draft the first ever global plan to defeat meningitis, which was approved today by the World Health Assembly. The taskforce is a consortium of experts led by the World Health Organization, including Meningitis Research Foundation, UNICEF, PATH, Médecins Sans Frontières, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Professor Sir Brian Greenwood, LSHTM, said: "This is a major landmark moment for meningitis. Members of the World Health Assembly have approved the roadmap as part of the first resolution on meningitis prevention and control and requested the Director General to provide support for this important initiative from WHO. The international community now needs to come together to meet the ambitious targets set out in the roadmap."

The roadmap sets targets and milestones for improvements in five areas: prevention and epidemic control; diagnosis and treatment; surveillance; support and care for patients affected; and engagement and advocacy.

Meningitis Research Foundation has driven the call to action and we look forward to working with them to help defeat meningitis.”

You can read more about how the roadmap was achieved in our Defeating Meningitis timeline:

Rob Dawson

Director of Communications, Advocacy and Support

Meningitis Research Foundation

Direct line 0333 405 6252

Switchboard 0333 405 6262

Helpline UK 080 8800 3344 Ireland 1800 41 33 44

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HIFA profile: Rob Dawson is Director of Communications, Advocacy and Support at Meningitis Research Foundation, UK. robd AT