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SHAHPARA, India (AP) The World Health Organization has formally declared India to be polio-free, with no new cases of the disease detected in the country in the past three years.

WHO said Thursday that the milestone means it now considers the entire Southeast Asian region, home to a quarter of the world's population, to be free of the disease.

India's decades-old battle against polio involved a rigorous vaccination campaign carried out by nearly 2.5 million health workers, doctors and volunteers.

It was accompanied by a government-funded advertising blitz that took the message of the importance of polio inoculations to villages and towns across the Indian subcontinent.