Before I met my partner Eilidh, I would have scanned over a story about meningitis in the newspapers without even noticing it. To be honest, I didn’t really know much about meningitis, apart from that in many cases it was life-threatening. But as I say, my knowledge of the disease was limited. And it’s highly likely that if Eilidh hadn’t told me of her battle with the illness as a child, I would still be none the wiser.
It would be fair to say that I know a good bit more now, though, and that’s why I find it disgraceful that a vaccination for the most common form of the disease, Meningitis B, is not available on the NHS, whose joint board for vaccination and immunisation has advised that the vaccine is not cost-effective. Hence, a jab that could potentially save lives cannot be used to treat patients.
Bacterial Meningitis has the awful ability to kill or cause severe harm in only a matter of hours. Now an opportunity has arisen to protect children from this ghastly disease, and the decision not to make the necessary funds available to buy the vaccine is absolutely appalling, especially for families who have had to deal with the dreadful situation of a loved one being struck down by meningitis.
Let’s put things into perspective. Last year alone, the NHS forked out £36million to provide heroin substitute methadone to drug addicts – and taxpayers’ money is being used to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical firms who make the methadone. I wouldn’t be so aggrieved if the system worked, but currently it’s failing badly. The majority of users have been on the synthetic replacement for years and many users are still taking heroin, as well as the substitute drug.
As you may well have gathered, the only winners here are the pharmaceutical companies who continue to get rich on public money. Hardly cost-effective, is it?
More than 1,800 people succumb to Meningitis B every year. For one in ten of the infected, the disease will prove to be fatal. The opportunity to save lives has been presented, yet it becomes apparent that there is a price for everything. In this instance, the price is too high and the NHS is willing to gamble with people’s lives.
Held in comparison with the rising costs of Scotland’s methadone programme, there is no denying a serious case of double-standards is occurring.
On a personal level, I’m a great supporter of the NHS, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with all of its policies. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be more than willing to pay higher taxes if it meant children received immunisation and the chance of being infected by Meningitis B was eradicated.
At the moment, I’m providing pharmaceutical firm bosses with the funds to buy sports cars and luxury houses. And so are you!