To mark World Meningitis Day, GSK has announced the launch of the Tackle Meningitis campaign in partnership with Irish Rugby captain Rory Best and former England Rugby player, Matt Dawson whose son previously contracted the disease.
The initiative is aimed at raising awareness of meningitis, which is a rare but potentially fatal disease. The campaign is backed by Irish charities, Meningitis Research Foundation and ACT for Meningitis. Tackle Meningitis aims to increase understanding of the disease, its symptoms and the fact that there are different strains of meningitis that can affect both children and young people, using the influence of sport to reach as many people as possible.
As part of GSK’s campaign, a survey of 700 Irish parents revealed that awareness of the signs and symptoms of meningitis remains worryingly low despite 92% of parents surveyed being either concerned or very concerned about the disease.
The survey also flagged a number of other important barriers to greater awareness, including a lack of knowledge about the age ranges at risk and how the disease is passed on, with over a third unaware how the disease is contracted. Also nearly half of respondents were unaware how many strains of meningitis there are.
The campaign will raise awareness of existing information and materials that can be used to help spot suspected cases of meningitis, in hope that parents better understand this disease, how to spot symptoms and how it can be prevented. It also aims to increase understanding around the solutions to the disease: whilst raising awareness that no single vaccine protects from all strains, there are vaccines available to prevent the meningococcal B and C strains, which cause the majority of the disease in Ireland, both of which are part of the national immunisation programme.