A vaccine already in use in an African country has been found effective against an important cause of childhood meningitis which causes more than 400,000 deaths each year in the developing world. A scientist says Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), which is a major cause of bacterial pneumonia in children, has been wiped out in Gambia by a vaccine introduced eight years ago, reported the science portal SciDev.Net. Richard Adegbola of the Gambian Medical Research Council Laboratories and his colleagues said nearly 6,000 children were monitored for Hib infection between 1997, when the Gambian authorities began a comprehensive vaccination programme for babies under 12 months old, and 2002. Cases of Hib disease in children under the age of one fell from 200 per 100,000 to zero. For children aged five years and under, incidence fell from 60 cases per 100,000 to zero. The researchers say their finding has important implications for other developing countries, as the infection was eradicated despite an irregular supply of the vaccine. That Gambia has achieved its result with an "effective but not perfect" vaccination system should encourage other developing countries to introduce the vaccine into their immunisation programmes, they said.