HL Deb 11 December 1997 vol 584 cc58-9WA
Lord HolmPatrick

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they consider that public funds spent on student meningitis awareness campaigns by the Department of Health would be better spent on medical research, given the fact that there are well-established meningitis charities running their own awareness campaigns.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

The Department of Health first asked the Health Education Authority to develop material for students in 1996 as the department was aware of the lack of information specifically aimed at this group. The meningitis charities have since also produced information aimed at students independently of the department's information strategy. The department reviews annually its information strategies and will be consulting with the two meningitis charities about next year's student awareness campaigns.

The main agency through which the Government support medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The council is always willing to consider support for soundly based new scientific proposals in competition with other applications. As regards research into meningitis, the MRC is currently providing support for two MRC units and funding 12 research grants at a cost of £2.3 million in 1995/6.

In addition work to evaluate meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccines in United Kingdom children is being funded by the department at a total cost of over £1 million. Early indications from this work are encouraging and puts the UK in a world leading position. The department provides funding to both the National Meningitis Trust and the Meningitis Research Foundation to support their work.