Warning over wider cost of meningitis impact

Too few people understand the long-term and wider impact of meningitis, the Meningitis Research Foundation has warned.
Too few people understand the long-term and wider impact of meningitis, the Meningitis Research Foundation has warned.

The immense cost of meningitis on health and wellbeing is drastically underestimated, campaigners warn, as new research is released into understanding the impact.

While many people are aware that the infection can kill, the Meningitis Research Foundation says, too few are aware of the legacy it leaves.

Revealing new findings today to mark the start of Meningitis Awareness Week, the foundation warns recognition is needed of the need for long-term aftercare.

"While many are aware that meningitis costs lives, fewer people know about the damage the disease can do to people’s long term health and their future," said chief executive Vinny Smith.

"The cost to people can be immense, and sadly some never recover, so that’s why we need effective aftercare for people and their families.”

The foundation's research, surveying 2,000 adults, found 60 per cent of respondents in Yorkshire were unaware of the lifelong health effects of meningitis on survivors.

Just over one in 10 of those surveyed the region knew deafness was a common after effect, despite it being a leading cause of acquired hearing loss.

Most, at 89 per cent, also underestimated the number of people that could be left with severe impairments from meningitis.

The MRF estimates the costs to the state for a severe case of meningitis to be in the region of £3m to £4.5m over the lifetime of the survivor.

MRF also asked supporters about their views on the specialist aftercare they had received, with around two-thirds unhappy with information given on the long-term effects, recovery reviews or assessments.

"We’re calling for ongoing support from specialist care services, although we know some people receive excellent post-meningitis care, we want that help to be available to all," said Mr Smith.

"MRF-funded research has shown how important effective aftercare is to quality of life, that’s why we have a free support services. Those who contact our support team tell us it is vital for their recovery and helps them feel less isolated.

“We are also working with the World Health Organization and partners to finalise the first ever global roadmap to defeat the disease, and improve support for people who have been affected."