The global disease burden of meningitis remains unacceptably high, and progress lags substantially behind that seen in relation to other vaccine-preventable diseases, warns a new report from the Global Burden of Disease 2016 meningitis collaborators.
Published in the Lancet Neurology, the analysis shows that meningitis deaths reduced by just 21 per cent globally between 1990 and 2016, whereas other preventable diseases such as measles and tetanus saw declines of 93.0 and 90.7, respectively. The number of cases of meningitis increased from 2.5 million in 1990 to 2.82 million in 2016.
The highest concentration of cases and deaths from meningitis was found in the sub-Saharan Africa ‘meningitis belt’, despite huge progress in reducing meningococcal group A disease by 99 per cent in the region through the MenAfriVac vaccination programme.
Haemophilus influenzae type b was the most common cause of incident meningitis in 1990 but decreased by almost 50 per cent to become the least common cause in 2016. Meningococcus was the leading cause of meningitis mortality in 1990, whereas other meningitis was the leading cause for both deaths and incident cases in 2016.