Encephalitis Matters.

That is what we told the World Health Organization when Professor Tom Solomon, the President of the Encephalitis Society, and I visited their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month.

We took with us a 27,796-signature petition - signed by people from an amazing 126 different countries - calling on the WHO to feature World Encephalitis Day as one of their World Health Days.

Much more work needs to be done before we get to that stage but it was fantastic that we had the opportunity to talk about why encephalitis matters and how we can further the encephalitis agenda more globally.

Encephalitis affects 500,000 people across the world each year - no matter their age, sex or nationality - and is more common, in many countries, than motor neurone disease/ALS, bacterial meningitis, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.

We raised these issues with the WHO, but also our concerns around the hesitancy of many people to give their children vaccines for conditions, such as measles, and about how best we can work together to improve diagnosis, patient management and prevention of certain forms of encephalitis.

So, as you can see, there was a lot to talk about and we are very grateful to our friends at the WHO for inviting us to begin that discussion which will now continue.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to sign the petition ahead of World Encephalitis Day. We had no idea how many signatures we would receive, so to have over 27,000 was staggering to everyone involved!

Your support makes us very proud - and I hope you enjoy the film we put together which tells you a little bit more about our trip to Switzerland.

Best wishes,

Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of the Encephalitis Society.