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Normally, it takes three years without cases to declare a disease eradicated from a region, but in this instance it took 14 years.

Experts at the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, D.C., where the announcement was made, cited several reasons for the delay: poor communication between local and national health departments in some countries, large numbers of unvaccinated mobile migrants in others, and parts of other countries that were unreachable because of fighting.

The certification process “is really hard,” said Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, who chaired the expert committee that made the announcement. “It’s not an easy task.” She did not name the countries that delayed the certification, but she did congratulate Brazil for working especially hard to vaccinate children and look for cases in recent years.

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