A new study finds a dangerous strain of childhood meningitis has been eliminated in Uganda, just five years after the country introduced a nationwide vaccine.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations says its study shows a 100 percent drop in the number of cases of the bacterial disease in Ugandan children from 2001 to 2006. It says the immunization program should save the lives of about 5,000 children a year.
The Uganda government has distributed more than 16 million doses of the vaccine, known as Hib, with financial support from the alliance.
The vaccine protects against a bacteria that can inflame the lining of the brain or cause pneumonia. The disease kills about 400,000 children globally each year, while three million more can suffer deafness, paralysis and retardation.
Most industrialized countries have largely eliminated the disease, but Hib vaccines are rare in developing nations because of the cost.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations includes the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and other private philanthropists.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.