( dpa ) - Somalia was once again free of polio the World Health Organization, WHO, announced Tuesday, calling it a "historic achievement."
Despite the conflict and instability gripping the country, no further cases of polio have been reported for exactly a year.
A statement issued in Geneva said it was a "landmark victory" brought about by more than 10,000 Somali volunteers and health workers who repeatedly vaccinated more than 1.8 million children under the age of five.
They had visited every household several times in across a country "ranked one of the most dangerous places on earth. "
Polio had been wiped out in 2002 but the country had been infected again in an outbreak originating from Nigeria. Efforts to eradicate the disease once more resulted in the last case being reported on March 25, 2007 in Mudug Province in central Somalia.
The regional Director for WHO in the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Hussein Gezairy said: "This truly historic achievement shows that polio can be eradicated everywhere, even in the most challenging and difficult settings."
Polio, which can cause permanent paralysis, is now endemic in just four countries, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan, following a global initiative launched by WHO 20 years ago and now spearheaded by national governments.
However WHO said the initiative faced a 525 million dollar funding shortfall for 2008-2009 to fight the disease in the remaining endemic areas.