On Tuesday, the African Regional Certification Commission, an independent body, declared Africa free from the wild polio virus. In 1996, Nelson Mandela spearheaded the "Kick Polio Out of Africa" program. That same year, 75,000 children were paralyzed by the disease. In the decades that have followed, over 95% of Africa's population has been immunized, a standard set by the commission before the continent could be declared free from wild polio. Polio survivors, have played a critical role in efforts to quell fears about the vaccine. Misbahu Lawan Didi, who was paralyzed as a child and is now president of the Nigerian Polio Survivors Association, told the BBC, "Many rejected the polio vaccine, but they see how much we struggle to reach them, sometimes crawling large distances, to speak to them. We ask them, 'Don't you think it is important for you to protect your child not to be like us?'" Two out of three strains of the virus have been eradicated worldwide. The remaining strain is now only found in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and experts caution that continued vaccination and surveillance must be maintained in order for countries to remain polio-free.

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