We aim to educate and inform New Zealanders about meningitis and septicaemia and the diseases that cause them – pneumococcal disease and meningococcal disease.
In 2018 there were 120 confirmed cases of invasive meningococcal disease in New Zealand, and 10 people died.
Across the series, recorded in late April 2019, we talk with individuals who have survived meningitis and families who have experienced the heartbreak of losing a loved one to meningitis. We also talk with medical professionals and government representatives about the disease, the 2018 epidemic in Northland, and the available vaccines.
For more information go to www.meningitis.org.nz or follow us on facebook.
Dr Api Talemaitoga – GP and community and pacific health specialist
Dr Talemaitoga is a GP, currently working between Christchurch and Manukau, Auckland. He has a wealth of experience working with people in New Zealand as well as around the Pacific. He previously held the position of Chief Advisor for Pacific Health and Clinical Director Community Health Service Improvement within the Ministry of Health. In this discussion, we focus on the disproportionately high impact of meningococcal disease on our Maori and Pacific Island communities and the strategies that are necessary to protect our loved ones.
Dr Emma Best - Paediatrician, infectious diseases specialist, and medical advisor at IMAC
Dr Emma Best has a special interest in pneumococcal and meningococcal meningitis in children. Dr Best provides us with a solid understanding of the disease, the difference between bacterial and viral meningitis, and how they clinically present. Dr Best also provides a specialist’s viewpoint of how the disease is treated and the likely outcomes for patients who survive meningitis infections. We talk briefly about the Northland meningococcal disease epidemic and the success of the targeted vaccination programme.
Honouring Letitia (Tesh) Gallagher
Lisa and Mark Gallagher said goodbye to their beautiful daughter in July 2012. Tesh contracted meningococcal disease as an 18 year old and died within 18 hours of seeing a GP for flu-like symptoms. The disease progressed so quickly and went straight to Tesh’s brain that there was nothing that could be done for her. But Tesh’s legacy lives on. As an organ donor, Tesh has given ten other New Zealanders a second chance at life. Lisa and Mark honour Tesh with their work to educate others.
Jamie Martin - advocating for the global eradication of meningitis
Jamie Martin is a meningitis survivor, a multiple amputee, a US paralympian and an absolute inspiration. Against all odds, she survived meningococcal infection and after a long process of recovery and rehabilitation now works to educate families, healthcare practitioners, and governments around the world about meningitis with the aim of eradicating the disease entirely. She advocates for universal access to vaccines, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be protected from this devastating disease.
Paul Gilberd - (Former) Director of the Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand
Paul Gilberd works with a small team of dedicated volunteers to raise awareness of pneumococcal and meningococcal meningitis, to provide information and education, and to advocate for access to vaccinations for all New Zealanders. The Foundation also manages an active network of families affected by meningitis. Paul talks about the work of the Meningitis Foundation, their support for ongoing research, and their efforts to effect change in our community and healthcare system.
Dr Niki Stefanogiannis - Deputy Director of Public Health, Ministry of Health
Responsible for the management of vaccine preventable diseases and communicable diseases in NZ, the Ministry receives regular surveillance reports from ESR regarding the latest statistics for meningococcal disease and monitors trends in the number of cases and the serotypes which affect New Zealanders. Dr Stefanogiannis talks us through the recent increase in the number of Men.W infections and deaths, and the implications for effective management. This includes education, vaccination, and timely medical treatment.