Derry’s MP has pledged his support to new charity Meningitis Now, after meeting families left devastated by the disease.
SDLP MP Mark Durkan met families and young people directly affected by the disease at an event in Westminster hosted by Meningitis Now (the UK’s biggest meningitis charity) – recently created from the merger of Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK, the founders of the meningitis movement in the 1980s.
At the reception, MPs from all parties were invited to make a pledge in support of the charity. Mr Durkan pledged to press David Cameron on behalf of Meningitis Now during Prime Minister’s Questions.
He said: “After meeting families and hearing from young people directly affected by meningitis, I was keen to make a commitment to do everything I can to support them.
“Meningitis is unpredictable and is still the disease feared most by parents. Vaccines have made a huge impact on cases but I was shocked to hear that it still affects thousands of people every year. Two children die every week from meningitis and even adults are affected by the disease.
“I’m therefore delighted to support Meningitis Now and do what I can to help save lives and rebuild futures.”
There are an estimated 3,400 cases of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia each year in the UK. One in ten people who get bacterial meningitis will die and one in three will be left with life-changing after-effects such as brain damage or limb loss.
The government is currently considering bringing in a new vaccine to protect babies against meningitis B, which accounts for 50% of cases.
Meningitis Now is campaigning to bring in the meningitis B vaccine and delivered a 20,000 signature petition to Downing Street on Wednesday 23rd October.
Chief Executive of Meningitis Now, Sue Davie said: “I want to thank Mark Durkan for his support and for taking time out to listen to the real life experiences of families affected by meningitis.
“With his help we can make a difference to people throughout the UK – people who are at risk from meningitis and those whose lives have already been changed forever because of it.”
For more information on Meningitis Now, the disease and how to support the Beat it Now vaccine campaign visit www.meningitisnow.org