LIMA, PERU, 17 November 2022 (PAHO) – Health experts and partners from the Americas involved in the prevention, control and treatment of meningitis gathered at a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) conference this week to lay out a roadmap for defeating meningitis in the Region by 2030 .
Although bacterial meningitis is preventable by vaccination, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that meningitis caused 250,000 deaths in 2019, causing one in five people to develop long-term cases after infection.
Meningitis is an infection of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Bacterial meningitis can be successfully treated with antibiotics if caught early. However, if left untreated, it has a high mortality rate.
Long-term conditions that can arise from meningitis infection include hearing loss, cognitive impairment, such as memory or learning problems, limb loss and visual impairment. Because of the severe impact of untreated meningitis, the disease is among the four leading causes of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
“The goal of the roadmap for 2030 is to reduce meningitis cases by 50% and deaths by 70%, and we are also working to eliminate epidemics of bacterial meningitis in Latin America and To reduce disability and improve quality of life after meningitis.”
Dr. de Oliveira explained that to achieve these goals, it is necessary to strengthen the basic pillars of the health system: prevention, diagnosis, epidemiological surveillance, access to medical services and care for patients with post-meningitis conditions.
The roadmap proposed actions along these areas, but also includes raising awareness to inform residents and decision-makers about the disease, and spreading messages about symptoms and signs as well as vaccines and other ways to prevent the disease.
Dr. Dr. said. Maria Teresa Valenzuela, Pan American Health Organization International Immunization Adviser, “This is why the 2030 Roadmap is so important.”
The Seventy-third World Health Assembly in November 2020 endorsed the Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030. This plan was officially launched by WHO, PAHO and partners in September 2021.
During the meeting in Lima this week, PAHO experts and partners discussed the steps needed to put the global plan into action in Latin America.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed priorities and resources, and now it is critical that we get back on track to defeat meningitis and protect populations from this massive global public health threat,” said Dr. Valenzuela.
The incidence of invasive meningococcal disease is highest in children under one year of age and remains relatively high until about age five. Although it has a downward trend in older children, it is increasing again in adolescents and young adults, especially when they live together. The incidence decreases again in adults.
“Recognition of bacterial meningitis as a public health problem is low, despite its effects on young children, and the 2030 Regional Roadmap is a much-needed step in the right direction towards defeating the disease in the Americas,” concluded Dr. de Oliveira.