Mark Reckless MP is backing Meningitis Research Foundation’s activity ‘Meningitis Matters’ – to raise awareness of meningitis and septicaemia, and to ensure that tackling the diseases remains a top public health priority while the current NHS reforms are implemented.
Meningitis is still a serious and life-threatening disease, affecting around 3,400 people in the UK each year . Infants and young people are at greatest risk : meningitis causes the largest number of deaths amongst children under five – more than any other infectious disease .
Meningitis Matters aims to raise awareness of the disease and ensure that the changes imposed by the new Health and Social Care Act 2012 do not have a destabilising effect on meningitis research, surveillance and immunisation rates.
Supporting Meningitis Matters, Mr Reckless met with local constituent Donna Cooney whose son Ollie contracted meningococal meningitis when he was 13 months old in 2004 to discuss her personal experience of the disease.
“I was putting my very poorly son Ollie to bed when I noticed pinprick red spots on his neck. He was rushed to hospital and given only a 5% chance of survival. But after a week on life support and four weeks in hospital doctors were amazed he pulled through and his limbs weren’t affected. Had I not known the signs it would have been a very different story. He has been left with 5 scars, the biggest one on his back the size of a 50p, so he is a very lucky boy. He has also suffered with night terrors ever since, I can’t wake him and he remembers nothing the next day. I am backing the Meningitis Matters campaign to make sure that meningitis does remain a high priority during the NHS reforms and to ensure that all children are protected against all forms of the disease.”
Along with other MPs, Mr Reckless has signed a pledge calling on the Government to introduce new meningitis vaccines as soon as readily available. Many deadly strains of meningitis remain uncontrolled, and vaccination is still the most effective way to prevent and control it.
“Meningitis hasn’t gone away – it still kills far too many children and leaves many more with life-long disabilities. Although real progress has been made over the last decade, more needs to be done. Meningitis and septicaemia are terrible diseases which are vaccine preventable and no child should be dying from them in today’s world.”
Meningitis Matters calls on the Government to:
- Introduce new vaccines that prevent meningitis onto the national immunisation schedule as soon as they become available
- Develop in partnership with patient groups communication strategies to raise awareness of the importance of meningitis and the need for vaccination
- Provide good quality integrated support and aftercare for those left with disabilities and debilitating after-effects