INDEPENDENT NEWS

Meningitis Trust To Close

Published: Fri 30 Nov 2007 12:50 AM
Meningitis Trust To Close
A charity dedicated to raising awareness of meningitis and supporting people affected by this dreadful disease is closing down its operations in New Zealand after six successful years.
The Meningitis Trust will close its New Zealand office on Friday 21st December 2007. Recognising the ongoing support needs of people affected by meningitis, the Trust is putting in place arrangements for those people it is currently extensively supporting. This will include completion of all commitments for counselling and financial grants, as well as continuation of the 24 hour free phone helpline.
Since it was opened in April 2002 the Meningitis Trust has played a major role in the fight against meningitis in New Zealand and has been at the forefront of vital life saving campaigns to make people aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, the introduction of appropriate vaccines and the provision of support for those people affected by meningitis.
In the last six years the Trust has:
• Supported the introduction and roll-out of the MenZB vaccine. Since its introduction in 2004 there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of cases of the B strain of the disease;
• Helped to secure commitment from the Government to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine in next year's childhood immunisation programme;
• Distributed more than 8 million pieces of literature, posters and symptoms cards;
• Provided a helpline which has taken thousands of calls;
• Supported hundreds of families through counselling, financial grants (such as teacher aides, mobility assistance, and respite care), community support and one-to-one contact;
• Raised awareness amongst health professionals through specialist education sessions;
• Distributed 3,000 DVDs and 7,000 guides to early years professionals.
"With the introduction of vaccines and the limited recognition of the after effects of meningitis and need for support, it has been getting increasingly difficult to raise the funds we need to continue. With the knowledge that the Fight for Life funds would be utilised by early 2008 and limited other income streams, we have been trying to secure the essential sustainable funds we needed. Sadly, we have not been able to achieve this in the necessary timescales. In light of this, and the fact that I have now been approached to lead another New Zealand charity, the board has made the difficult decision to close," Meningitis Trust Fiona Colbert said.
"What the Trust has achieved since 2002 is incredible, and I am particularly proud to have been involved in the introduction of vaccines to prevent some strains of meningitis. We are so grateful to everyone that has helped the Trust over the years - without them we would not have been able to achieve as much as we have.
"We know there are people who will still need help and we are doing our best to put in place alternative arrangements, as well as funding completion of any counselling and financial grants such as provision of teacher aides."
Rusty Brooke, Director of the Meningitis Trust, said "Fiona's personal commitment to the Meningitis Trust since it started has enabled it to achieve so much against its core aims, and has had a direct impact on the lives of the New Zealand people. It is sad that we cannot secure the funding to continue but the board wishes Fiona every success in the future with her new charity."
People concerned about meningitis can contact the following:
• For general information on the disease and signs & symptoms, call 0800 446 087
• For information on immunisations, call IMAC on 0800 IMMUNE (466 863)
• For all medical matters, call Ministry of Health Helpline on 0800 611 116, available 24 hours a day and led by trained nurses
Ends

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