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Volume 180: debated on Thursday 15 November 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding has been allocated for (a) research into and (b) help for families and sufferers of meningitis over the past 10 years; and what extra help will be given to this area of medicine by public awareness campaigns during the winter months.

The Medical Research Council, which receives its grant in aid from the Department of Education and Science, provided £887,000 for research during the period 1985–86 to 1989–90.This Department has made available £72,800 for research into meningitis for the period 1986–90; we are also awaiting the final report of a case control study of meningococcal disease in eight west country health districts from 1 May 1988 to 30 April 1990.Information about funding for meningitis research over the last 10 years is available only at disproportionate cost.The public health laboratory service's communicable disease surveillance centre began a study on 1 November, costing £135,000 and fully funded by the Department, to investigate candidate vaccines against haemophilus influenzae b(Hib) infection, one of the causes of bacterial meningitis. The centre also keeps the incidence of meningitis under close review, and is available to advise health authorities if an outbreak occurs.