THE Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) together with government organizations, medical societies, NGOs and academe in collaboration with the Confederation of Meningitis Organization (CoMO) and Pasay City Health Office are joining hands in the fight against meningitis in the observance of the World Meningitis Day.
The World Meningitis Day, now on its ninth year, is an international celebration, which unites meningitis organizations, health and vaccine advocates around the globe toward the single mission of raising awareness about the devastating effects of meningitis and septicaemia and encouraging its prevention through vaccination.
“We are very much fortunate that there are so many organizations who are working together with us toward achieving the goal of a world free of meningitis. We appreciate the support of the media in helping us in making the public aware that meningitis can be prevented by vaccination,” said Dr. Shelley Ann de la Vega, president of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination.
“Apart from the World Meningitis Day, we also observed the World Immunization Week from April 24 to 30, that aimed to close the immunization gap through the acceleration of actions to increase awareness and demand for immunization by communities, and improve vaccination delivery services. The PFV as the champion to disease prevention is continuously supporting the country’s initiatives in protecting the Filipino children and families,” Dr. Lulu Bravo said.
What is Meningitis?
MENINGITIS is an inflammation of the fluid and membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. There are three main types of meningitis infection: bacterial, viral or fungal/ environmental. Meningitis kills or disables around 1.2 million people worldwide each year.
Bacterial meningitis, which is the most severe and common form of meningitis, causes around 120,000 deaths globally every year.
Even with prompt diagnosis and treatment, approximately 10 percent of patients will die within 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms, and up to 20 percent or more will sustain permanent damage and disability.
Infants and children under five years old and adolescents between 15 and 19 years of age are most at risk. But anyone in the world can get meningitis at any time. Cases are more frequent in developing countries due to poverty, overcrowding and lack of access to vaccines.
Those surviving meningitis can have their lives devastated as a result of long-term effects, such as deafness, brain damage, learning difficulties, seizures, difficulties with physical activities and when septicaemia is involved loss of limbs.
Many people don’t know the warning signs or that many types of meningitis are vaccine-preventable.
THE best way to prevent bacterial meningitis is through vaccination.
Vaccines prepare the immune system by exposing the body to a germ so that it is better able to fight an infection when it occurs. Vaccines contain either parts of a germ, live but weakened germs, or inactivated (dead) germs.
The vaccines available protect against the three major causes of bacterial meningitis, meningococcal disease, pneumococcal meningitis and Haemophilus Influenzae Type b.
Meningitis-preventing vaccines have proven to be extremely safe. Because they are composed of purified polysaccharide and protein, there is no possibility of contracting meningitis or any other infection from these vaccines.