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World Meningitis Day: TakeAction #DefeatMeningitis

by Public Health Update


World Meningitis Day is observed each year on the 24th of April every year. World Meningitis Day helps to raise awareness about meningitis – a potentially deadly disease that can kill in a matter of hours or cause lifelong disability. Meningitis continues to be a major global public health issue causing up to 5 million cases each year, including epidemics of new strains that spread between countries and across the world.

In November 2020, the Seventy-Third World Health Assembly approved the first ever resolution on meningitis prevention and control and the Defeating meningitis by 2030 global road map.

Theme 2021

This year’s theme is TakeAction #DefeatMeningitis. 

What you should know?

  • Meningitis can strike everyone and at all ages – it can be fatal within a few hours and cause lifelong disability.
  • Meningitis epidemics can happen fast with serious health, economic and social consequences.  
  • Meningitis is a medical emergency and must be treated quickly. 
  • Symptoms of meningitis can include:
    • stiff neck
    • fever
    • sensitivity to light
    • confusion and drowsiness
    • headaches
    • vomiting
    • rash
    • seizures
    • infants may:
    • have a bulging fontanelle (soft spot)
    • be droopy and unresponsive
  • Not everyone will get all of these symptoms and they can occur in any order.
  • Vaccination against meningococcus, pneumococcus and Haemophilus influenzae type b protect against common causes of meningitis. New vaccines will save more lives over the next decade.
  • Meningitis is one of the leading causes of neurological disability, which can last a lifetime – the Defeating Meningitis by 2030 global road map addresses this issue alongside prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
  • By 2030, countries have committed to
  • eliminating bacterial meningitis epidemics;
  • reducing cased of vaccine-preventable bacterial meningitis by 50% and deaths by 70%;
  • reducing disability and improving the quality of life for meningitis survivors.

World Meningitis Day 2021 Key Messages

Meningitis and septicaemia are medical emergencies that can be deadly and have serious, long-lasting impacts.

  • Approx. 1 in 10 who contract bacterial meningitis die of it, and 1 in 5 will experience lifelong after effects such as brain damage, hearing loss, organ damage, and limb loss.
  • Meningitis is emotionally devastating, not just for the person who contracted it, but for their loved ones as well.
  • When someone loses a loved one to meningitis, their life is changed forever.
  • Each person’s grief process is different but no one should have to cope alone. Support is important for everyone affected. Depression and anxiety, common psychological impacts of meningitis, cost the global economy US$1 trillion each year in lost productivity. The value of emotional support networks cannot be underestimated.

The impact of Covid-19 has led to some people missing their immunisations and the number of meningitis cases are expected to rise when people start to gather again.

  • Most meningitis is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets e.g. coughing, sneezing and close contact such as kissing.
  • Meningitis can affect anyone at any age and can kill in under 24 hours.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you have the symptoms.
  • Meningitis is largely vaccine preventable. Ensure you are up-to-date with your immunisations.

Source of info: WHO & comomeningitis.org

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