An international plan to defeat group B Strep meningitis was endorsed by the World Health Assembly last week.
The “Defeating meningitis by 2030: a global road map” aims to defeat the main causes of bacterial meningitis (meningococcus, pneumococcus, haemophilus influenzae and group B Strep) and reduce the huge burden that meningitis causes around the world.
Meningitis affects more than 5 million people globally each year and group B Strep infects at least 320,000 babies under 3 months each year. While global rates of meningitis have fallen by 53% between 1990 and 2017, this is lower than other vaccine-preventable diseases (70-90%), and there is not yet a vaccine available against group B Strep.
The road map advocates group B Strep screening and calls for global guidelines on group B Strep prevention to be developed by 2025. This will keep group B Strep on the international agenda, and focus minds on the ongoing development of a group B Strep vaccine.
Group B Strep Support was closely involved in the development of the road map and worked closely with the WHO stakeholder group on the goals and activities relating to group B Strep. We are grateful to every one of the 2,671 supporters who shared with us – and we in turn shared with the WHO – their views about what they wanted the WHO to prioritise for group B Strep prevention.
We are delighted to see this draft road map reach this point. It combines the knowledge and expertise of so many organisations and experts. I especially congratulate the World Health Organization and the Meningitis Research Foundation without whom it would not have come into being.
I’m so pleased that group B Strep infection is included as a key target of the road map, given it is the leading cause of meningitis in babies. The road map acknowledges that we must use existing prevention strategies and tools like screening to prevent group B Strep infection. Until there is a safe and effective vaccine against group B Strep, the UK and other member states must do much more to stop avoidable tragedies caused by GBS.Jane Plumb MBE, CEO, Group B Strep Support
This first draft global road map on defeating meningitis sets out a path to tackle the main causes of acute bacterial meningitis (meningococcus, pneumococcus, haemophilus influenzae and group B streptococcus).
This focus is based on: evidence of the worldwide burden of disease due to these four organisms, which also cause sepsis and pneumonia and were responsible for over 50% of the 290 000 deaths from all-cause meningitis in 2017; and the impact that this draft global road map could have on diminishing the burden of disease by 2030, since effective vaccines are available (now or in development) that protect against disease caused by all four organisms.Global vaccine action plan “Defeating meningitis by 2030” Meningitis prevention and control Report by the Director-General, WHO