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Inaugurating the First Nuclear Medicine Facility in Mauritania

22 January 2015
Cancer is an emerging challenging on the African continent. Although infectious diseases are a continuing threat to the most vulnerable populations, the toll exacted by cancer is growing throughout the region. Mauritania, a relatively new IAEA Member State, is no exception. Mauritania became an IAEA Member State in 2004, and in 2009, the country began to work with the IAEA's technical cooperation (TC) programme to establish radiotherapy facilities and a nuclear medicine centre. Highlighting government commitment, the Mauritanian Government dedicated significant funds to construct and equip the country's first radiotherapy unit, and a further 8 million USD was mobilised by the government to support the nuclear medicine centre. The IAEA supported the training of all staff for the radiotherapy centre. Through a series of IAEA fellowships, radiotherapy technicians, radio-pharmacists and radiotherapists were trained to staff the new facility. A follow-up IAEA technical cooperation project focused exclusively on building capacities in nuclear medicine. As part of this project, a further 14 IAEA fellows were trained--principally in Morocco, Algeria and France--to ensure the necessary expertise for the operation of a new nuclear medicine centre--the first in the country. 
On November 28, 2014, the 54th anniversary of Mauritanian independence, His Excellency, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz inaugurated the completed nuclear medicine facility. Like the radiotherapy centre, it is located within the National Oncology Centre in Nouakchott. In an interview with the IAEA, H.E. President Abdel Aziz explained, 'Looking forward, we hope to see our relationship with the IAEA evolve, a relationship that has proven so advantageous in recent years.'With the nuclear medicine centre now operational and accepting patients, Mauritania is able to offer diagnostic, therapeutic and treatment services to cancer patients. Through its cooperation with the IAEA, the Mauritanian Government has significantly improved its capacities in cancer diagnosis and treatment. IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation Text: Omar Yusuf Photos: Omar Yusuf and Steve Thachet ©2015

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