Let’s get serious for meningitis

A MENINGITIS charity is warning that after-effects of the disease are being over-looked in East Sussex.

New research by the Meningitis Trust is highlighting the long-term effects of the disease and is calling for assessments and educational support to become routine for every child who survives the condition.

There are currently 15,124 people in Sussex who have survived the disease and there are 272 new cases each year.

The new campaign is being launched at a time when the numbers of people getting meningitis are set to rise because of the traditional winter peak in the disease.

One in four people who survive meningitis will suffer some form of long-term after-effect.

While some suffer obvious after-effects, such as loss of limbs and blindness, others – who appear to have made a full recovery – are left with psychological and neurological problems that often go unrecognised.

Children can be left struggling at school, deprived of the educational support they need to reach their potential.

According to new research, children who survive meningococcal disease (a type of meningitis) are:

lFive times more likely to have speech, communication and hearing problems;

lFour times more likely to have mental health problems;

lSix times more likely to have epilepsy

lSignificantly more likely to have memory and IQ problems.

Sue Davie, chief executive of the Meningitis Trust, said, “Parents who have had to watch their child fight for their life when meningitis has struck now have to fight for their child to get the best chance in life.

“Recognition of the needs of these children should be a right, not a lottery.”

As part of the ‘Meningitis Changes Futures’ campaign, the Meningitis Trust is calling for every child survivor of meningitis to be assessed at different points in their educational life – as different problems can arise over time – so they can be given the support they need, when they need it.

People are being urged to sign the Meningitis Trust education petition www.MeningitisChangesFutures.co.uk.

The Meningitis Trust is helping rebuild these lives by providing support for life for victims of the disease, including funding additional educational support through unique financial grants.