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Volume 205: debated on Monday 9 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on information campaigns about meningitis in each of the last three years; and what plans his Department has for future campaigns.

Health education campaigns are conducted on behalf of the Government by the Health Education Authority which is funded by the Department. During the coming year, as part of its promotion of immunisation, the HEA will provide information on the new vaccine to be introduced against haemophilus influenzae b, a major cause of bacterial meningitis in young children; it is not possible to break-down this expenditure. In addition the Department makes an annual grant of £15,000 per annum to the National Meningitis Trust to help fund its information campaigns for both members of the public and professionals, and the HEA has assisted the trust with production of an information pack for GPs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what governmental initiatives have been taken in the last five years as to research into meningitis; what financial assistance has been given, and to which bodies, to organisations involved either in research into the disease or support to families affected; and whether such assistance is able to be separately identified as to amounts spent on research, administration and salaries of those working for organisations receiving Government support.

The main agency through which the Government support biomedical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council which receives its grant-in-aid from the Department of Education and Science. Figures for the last five years for MRC research into meningitis are as follows:

MRC research on meningitis funded in 1990–91 was as follows:

Direct support (through MRC's own Units):

Clinical Research Centre, Division of Communicable Diseases, Harrow, Middlesex.
Pathogenesis and immunobiology of meningococcal infection.
MRC Laboratories, The Gambia, West Africa.
Serological studies with Haemophilus Influenzae Type B polysaccharide/protein conjugate vaccines.

Indirect support (through grants to University departments):

Professor E. R. Moxon, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford.
Molecular basis of Haemophilus Influenzae pathogenicity.
Dr. G. J. Boulnois, Department of Microbiology, University of Leicester.
Genetic engineering of Polysaccharides.
Professor T. H. Pennington, Department of Bacteriology, University of Aberdeen.
Studies on the population genetics and typing of Neisseria Meningitidis.
Dr. J. E. Heckels, Department of Microbiology, University of Southampton.
Immunobiology of meningococcal outer membrane proteins.
Dr. D. M. Jones, Manchester Public Health Laboratory,
Public Health Laboratory Service Board, London.
To investigate Neisseria Meningitidis surface antigens for induction of protective antibody after disease/ carriage.
Dr. J. J. McFadden, Department of Microbiology, University of Surrey, Guildford.
DNA probes to study epidemiology and virulence of Neisseria Meningitidis infections.
Dr. B. G. Spratt, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton.
Molecular basis and molecular epidemiology of the emergence of penicillin resistance in Neisseria Meningitidis.
Dr. Rosalyn A. Davies, Department of Neuro-otology, Institute of Neurology, London.
The use of brain-stem acoustically evoked responses to predict permanent hearing loss following bacterial meningitis.
Dr. A. Robinson, Bacterial Antigens Group, Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research, Porton.
A preliminary investigation into the mechanisms of meningococcal meningitis.

In the last five years the Department of Health has commissioned the following meningitis related research projects:

  • 1. "A Prospective Case-control Study of Meningococcal Disease in Eight West Country Health Districts". Total cost: £58,874. Study undertaken by Bristol and Weston Health Authority;
  • 2. "Meningoencephalitis Associated with the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine." Total estimated cost: £129,195. Study being undertaken by Oxfordshire Health Authority;
  • 3. "Clinical Trial of Haemophilus Influenzae Vaccine." Total estimated cost £129,275. Study being undertaken by the Public Health Laboratory Service.
  • It is not possible to break down this expenditure into amounts spent on research, administration and salaries. Money given to the National Meningitis Trust is not intended for research purposes.