The Global Burden of Meningitis in Children: Challenges with Interpreting Global Health Estimates

Published February 13, 2021, in Microorganisms (opens in a new window)


The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a global roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030. To advocate for and track progress of the roadmap, the burden of meningitis as a syndrome and by pathogen must be accurately defined. Three major global health models estimating meningitis mortality as a syndrome and/or by causative pathogen were identified and compared for the baseline year 2015. Two models, (1) the WHO and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Maternal and Child Epidemiology Estimation (MCEE) group’s Child Mortality Estimation (WHO-MCEE) and (2) the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD 2017), identified meningitis, encephalitis and neonatal sepsis, collectively, to be the second and third largest infectious killers of children under five years, respectively. Global meningitis/encephalitis and neonatal sepsis mortality estimates differed more substantially between models than mortality estimates for selected infectious causes of death and all causes of death combined. Estimates at national level and by pathogen also differed markedly between models. Aligning modelled estimates with additional data sources, such as national or sentinel surveillance, could more accurately define the global burden of meningitis and help track progress against the WHO roadmap.

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Wright C, Blake N, Glennie L, Smith V, Bender R, Kyu H, Wunrow HY, Liu L, Yeung D, Knoll MD, Wahl B, Stuart JM, and Trotter C. The Global Burden of Meningitis in Children: Challenges with Interpreting Global Health Estimates. Microorganisms. 13 February 2021. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9020377.