Throughout November, Umoyo Nkukambirana, MBC Radio 1’s health talk programme for Malawi audiences, is airing a series of special one hour programmes on the deadly disease meningitis.

The programmes are sponsored by the international charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) thanks to a grant from the Scottish Government. They are designed to raise awareness of the disease which is little known in Malawi and often misdiagnosed. They are part of a year-round series of special radio health programmes spearheaded by MRF’s partner in Malawi, the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (MLW).

An estimated 1,000 people die of meningitis globally every day. The World Health Organization (WHO) say meningitis is a hidden disease in the developing world and more than half the babies and children who get meningitis in Malawi will die from the illness, while others are left with serious disabilities which the country is ill equipped to support.

In this week’s episode, Deborah Nyirenda, researcher at MLW, will be talking more about MRF and its health initiative Action Meningitis, which is operating at eight health clinics in the Blantyre and Chikhwawa districts of Malawi. Working with partners, Action Meningitis uses mobile phone technology to speed diagnosis and has already helped prioritise treatment for over 170,000 children. But the radio programmes have a wider remit – drawing attention to the symptoms which strike fast and can kill or seriously disable in hours. The programme will feature several people who have experienced the disease and are willing to share their personal stories.

This is the second series of meningitis programmes to be broadcast in MBC Radio 1’s health talk slot. The first series of eight programmes were aired in 2012/13 and were well received by audiences.

Christopher Head, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation said: “We’re delighted to be involved in another round of the radio programmes Umoyo N’kukambirana. These programmes have already proved highly successful in raising awareness of meningitis within villages, to address health-related social issues and to encourage early treatment seeking for sick children. Members of staff visited Balaka Radio Listening Club on a trip to Malawi last year and were impressed with the impact the programmes had on villagers and their understanding of meningitis.”

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