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IFA Virtual Town Hall Chat Summary 18 September 2020


Key Resources

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Speaker Biographies

Mr. Rob Dawson:

Rob Dawson is a strategic communications director with experience in health and science across industry, public sector and not-for-profits.  He is currently Director of Communications, Advocacy and Support at Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), Chair of the STEM PR Association, Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) member and Communiqué Award judge.  He has also guest-lectured at Cambridge and Kent Universities.

While working as Head of News in a government science organization, his team was highlighted for excellence in strategy, team motivation and evaluation in an independent review of communications capability by the UK Government’s Cabinet Office.  He is a recipient of a number of communications awards including the Third Sector Awards 2018, Communications Campaign of the Year for MRF’s adolescent vaccine campaign; Communique Awards 2019 runner-up Health Communications Leadership and Charity of the Year; and more.

He was the editor of the NAM and aidsmap HIV Treatment Training Manual and creates content as a freelancer for a range of health platforms.


Ms. Linda Glennie:

Linda Glennie is Director of Research, Evidence and Policy at Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), a medical research charity and patient group.  Linda is a member of the technical task force for World Health Organization’s (WHO) Defeating Meningitis by 2030: a global road map, and supervises the MRF’s initiatives to improve estimation of the global burden of meningitis, and to promote the establishment of a global meningitis genome initiative.  She oversees MRF’s international research programme, which has produced ground-breaking research in Europe, Africa, Australia and the US.  She organizes the scientific programme for MRF’s biannual international conference, regional symposia, and public engagement events, and also supervises the development of educational resources for health professionals and the public.

Linda oversees the development of MRF’s policy standpoints and evidence submissions to WHO, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), UK government departments, and other national and international health consultations.  She is responsible for MRF’s stakeholder relationships with medical and scientific bodies, and represents MRF in many academic and industry collaborations.  She is on the guideline committee for the current NICE bacterial meningitis and meningococcal disease guideline.


Meningitis Advocacy

  • Can meningitis vaccination in childhood provide immunity throughout the life course?
  • Underlying chronic conditions often exacerbate the impact of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). Are at-risk patient groups part of the advocacy campaign to defeat meningitis and what can be done to raise the awareness and support of patient groups to address this issue?
  • How do economic considerations impact national recognition of the importance of implementing an effective meningitis prevention strategy?
  • Public vaccination coverage for older people is highly variable across the globe, even with high incidence of VPDs such as shingles and meningitis. The cost of vaccines may be a significant barrier for older people.
  • Additional barriers to vaccination may involve issues of confidence, convenience or complacency.


Meningitis Data

  • How can the data and information in the Meningitis Progress Tracker (MPT) be translated and synthesized into effective messages or narratives that are relevant for individuals and communities. The importance of intergenerational action should be highlighted in raising awareness of meningitis prevention, as older people may encourage vaccination in younger generations and vice-versa.
  • It is essential for data in the MPT (and other VPD surveillance tools) to be up-to-date. Are targets being set regarding the collection of data and what are the challenges to receiving information at the country level?
  • There are lessons being learned through the development of the MPT which are transferrable to the COVID-19 response, particularly regarding tracking and educaction going forward.
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