A ‘public health triumph’: Africa declared free of wild polio.

The WHO confirmed yesterday that the continent has defeated the virus, following a vaccination program first launched by Nelson Mandela

The WHO has confirmed that Africa has defeated wild polio after the virus was finally eliminated in Nigeria. The Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC), a task group appointed by the WHO to eradicate the disease, certified the continent free of wild polio yesterday four years after the last recorded case.

Polio typically affects children under five and can lead to paralysis and sometimes even death. There is no cure, but the polio vaccine offers lifelong immunization.

In 1996, an estimated 75,000 children in Africa were paralyzed by wild polio prompting nations to embark on a vaccination programmed launched by Nelson Mandela. The virus, however, clung on in Nigeria, which less than a decade ago accounted for around half of all global polio deaths.

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