Win for Meningitis – harnessing the power of inspirational images to create a win for disease prevention

Meningococcal disease, commonly called meningitis, is a sudden, potentially life-threatening illness. Through our Win for Meningitis campaign, we’re helping to raise awareness of this damaging disease.

Meningococcal disease, commonly called meningitis, is a bacterial infection that can result in the swelling of tissue around the spinal cord and the lining of the brain.1 It is a rare but sudden and potentially life-threatening illness. Our Win for Meningitis campaign, is a call to action to ensure parents are aware of the steps that can be taken to protect their children from the potentially devastating consequences of the disease.

Nick Springer
Nick Springer

Early symptoms of meningitis can be easily mistaken for other less serious illnesses such as flu, sometimes resulting in misdiagnosis and delayed treatment.2 The disease progresses rapidly and can lead to death within 24-48 hours of the first symptoms, so recognizing the symptoms and knowing when to seek medical help is vital.1 Most people survive without serious side-effects, however, approximately 1 in 10 cases may result in death and, even with appropriate treatment, up to 1 in 5 survivors may suffer life-long disability.1,3

  • Up to 1in 5

    survivors may suffer life-long disability

Anyone can develop the disease, but babies, children and young people are most at risk; babies in particular are at greatest risk because of their under-developed immune systems.3,4,5


Lenine Cunha meningitis survivor holding two babies
Lenine Cunha

In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of knowing about all types of meningococcal disease, and to help ensure parents know what steps can be taken to protect their children, GSK launched the Win for Meningitis campaign. The global disease awareness campaign comprised a series of activities to help raise awareness of meningitis prevention.

Madison Wilson Walker meningitis survivor holding a baby in front of a Canadian flag
Madison Wilson Walker

The campaign was brought to life through the work of renowned photographer and child advocate Anne Geddes, who photographed international para-athletes and meningitis survivors alongside healthy new born babies. Anne is known for her iconic photographs capturing the beauty and dignity of child meningitis survivors – and this campaign illustrated the strength and beauty of the athletes, symbolically protecting the next generation from meningitis. These powerful images have been shared online and across the world to build awareness of the disease. photograph these para-athletes is a gift because you can tell the whole story with the image.

Jamie Schanbaum, meningitis survivor holding a newborn baby
Jamie Schanbaum

Six main groups of meningococcal bacteria (A, B, C, W-135, X and Y) cause virtually all cases of meningitis around the world,6.7 Five groups, A, B, C, W-135, and Y are vaccine-preventable.8 The campaign aspires to encourage parents to review their children’s current immunisation schedules to help ensure that no child is left unprotected from the threat of meningococcal disease.

…I had lost my arms and my legs to not only a disease [meningitis] that I had never heard of, that my family had never heard of, but to a disease that was vaccine preventable, it really changed my outlook at the importance of vaccinations and speaking with your doctor.

Understanding – or misunderstanding – of the risks of meningococcal disease and the need for more education is a key issue. An international survey* revealed more than half of parents were unaware of which meningococcal vaccines are included in their country’s immunisation schedule. However it also revealed a desire by parents to learn more, particularly about how they can help protect their children.

GSK international survey results thumbnail

GSK international survey results

Download the international survey results

Bebe Vio, meningitis survivor holding a baby
Bebe Vio

Creating a world free from meningococcal disease is a huge goal and will require the help of many supporters. At GSK, we’re committed to improving healthcare by developing innovative new medicines and vaccines, and making them available to people around the world. Our global awareness campaign - Win for Meningitis - aimed to build on that commitment, educating people about the disease; and the steps that can be taken to help protect children from the potentially devastating consequences.

Suelen Marcheski meningitis survivor holding a baby in front of a Brazil flag
Suelen Marcheski

*International Win for Meningitis survey of parents was conducted by Ipsos MORI and commissioned by GSK. It was carried out in February and March 2016 via an online survey of parents, with a sample of 5,000 respondents, from five countries across three continents: Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy and Portugal.


[1] World Health Organization. (2012). Meningococcal Meningitis Factsheet N°141. Available at: Accessed April 2017.
[2]Thomson MJ, et al. (2006). Clinical recognition of meningococcal disease in children and adolescents. Lancet; 367, pp.397–403.
[3] Rosenstein NE, et al. (2001). Meningococcal disease. N Engl J Med, 344, pp.1378-88.
[4] Jafri RZ, et al. (2013). Global epidemiology of invasive meningococcal disease. Population Health Metrics; 11: 17. Available at: Accessed April 2017.
[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013). Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease; Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR); 62(2), pp.1-13. Available at: Accessed April 2017.
[6]World Health Organization (WHO). (2011). Meningococcal vaccines position paper. Weekly Epidemiological Record No. 47 (86), pp.521-540. Available at: Accessed April 2017.
[7] Dbaibo G, Khinkarly R, and Hedari C. (2014). Meningococcal serogroups A, C, W-135, and Y tetanus toxoid conjugate vaccine: a new conjugate vaccine against invasive meningococcal disease. IDR, p.85.
[8] European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). (2014). Annual Epidemiological Report—Vaccine-preventable diseases—invasive bacterial diseases 2014. Available at: Accessed April 2017.