Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “The Meningitis Aware Recognition Mark is an important initiative to help universities promote vaccine uptake and raise awareness of meningitis and septicaemia symptoms. Getting medical treatment as soon as possible is critically important. This campaign could help universities save lives.”
Sixteen higher education institutions have so far demonstrated their commitment to fighting deadly meningitis by being awarded the Mark – the UK’s first such scheme.
And a further 34 have registered to do so and are working through the process towards recognition.
But that still leaves more than 80 universities around the country still to benefit from the resource.
Helping universities prepare
The Mark, launched in July this year, aims to raise awareness of meningitis and meningococcal disease (meningitis and septicaemia) among students and staff, promote vaccine uptake and prepare universities for dealing with a case.
“We’ve had a strong and positive response to the launch of our Meningitis Aware Recognition Mark for Universities,” our chief executive Tom Nutt said, “but we want to do even better."
“We are now approaching the peak season for bacterial meningitis during the colder winter months so it’s particularly important that those universities who haven’t yet committed to the Mark do so now and demonstrate their commitment to their students’ health and wellbeing.”
Every university in the UK could experience at least one case of bacterial meningitis this winter, especially among first year students who are particularly high risk.
“Each one is a tragedy for the individual, their family and friends and the university,” Tom Nutt added. “It is essential that universities prioritise the coordinated and effective approach to tackling this potentially fatal disease that this Mark provides.”
The MARM toolkit has been developed with support from ‘a Life for a Cure’ and the James Tudor Foundation. It meets recommendations set out in Public Health England’s ‘Guidance on the prevention and management of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in higher education institutions’. These guidelines are inclusive for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
It has also been endorsed by the Student Health Association.
Once gained and on completion of a checklist the recognition mark can be used across digital platforms and on a wide variety of marketing and publicity materials.
Higher carriage rates
Meningitis can affect anyone at any time, but there are particular factors that increase the risk of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in students, particularly those in their first year. These include higher carriage rates and increased social interaction, where the spread of bacteria that students have not encountered previously is more likely.
“Universities and students should not be complacent about meningitis,” Dr Nutt added. “Vaccines do not protect against all strains of the disease and some students will not have been vaccinated."
“Knowing the signs and symptoms and seeking immediate medical attention if meningitis is suspected will save lives and improve outcomes.”
Universities awarded MARM as of 17 October 2017 are: University of Bristol; University of Surrey, Guildford (Stag Hill Campus); Keele University; University of Central Lancashire; Bath Spa University (Newton Park Campus); University of Bath; University of Hull; Oxford Brookes University; Ulster University; University of St Andrews; University of Warwick; University of Brighton; University of Essex; Royal Holloway, University of London; University of Chester; University of Liverpool.
Universities working towards registration as of 17 October 2017 are: Knowsley Community College; University of Nottingham (Park Campus); University of Sunderland (City Campus); Queen’s University Belfast; University of South Wales; Royal Holloway, University of London; Falmouth University (Penryn Campus); University of Edinburgh; Hull International Business School; University of Bedfordshire; Staffordshire University; Birmingham City University; Swansea University; York St John University; Ashton Sixth Form College; Leeds College of Music; Bournemouth University; Leeds Beckett University; Plymouth Marjon University; Durham University; University of Sunderland in London; University Centre Peterborough; Coventry University; Liverpool John Moores University; University of the West of England; University of Cambridge (Wolfson College); St Mary’s University College, Belfast; Ravensbourne; Middlesex University; Southampton Solent University; University of East London; University of Leicester; Cardiff Metropolitan University; Newcastle University.