Despite significant progress over the last few decades, meningitis remains a much-feared disease worldwide with a high case fatality rate and a propensity to cause epidemics that present a major challenge for health systems, economies and society. Meningitis caused an estimated 250 000 deaths in 2019, leaving one in five affected individuals with long-term devastating sequelae, and has serious consequences with considerable emotional, social and financial impact on individuals, families and communities. Meningitis is a largely preventable disease through vaccination, but progress in the fight against the disease is behind other diseases preventable by vaccination.

WHO, with global partners and experts involved in meningitis prevention and control, led the development of a global road map that sets forth a vision and roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030, involving hundreds of experts, Member States representatives, partners, Civil Society Organization as well as private sector representatives, through multidisciplinary, iterative and comprehensive consultations.

While the road map on defeating meningitis addresses all meningitis regardless of the cause, it primarily focuses on the main causes of acute bacterial meningitis (meningococcus, pneumococcus, Haemophilus influenzae and group B streptococcus), that were responsible for over 50% of the 250 000 deaths from all-cause meningitis in 2019, cause other invasive disease such as sepsis and pneumonia, and against which effective vaccines are available (or will be in a near future).

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