Twelve per cent of Mauritania's four million people suffers from various types of hepatitis (A-B-C), according to a government medical institute.
The director of the National Institute of Hepatic and Viral Diseases (governmental), Mustafa Ould Mohamed, said that between 10 and 12 per cent of Mauritanians are infected with hepatitis.
This came in a speech he delivered on Monday in Nouakchott during the commemoration of the World Hepatitis Day, which was held under the slogan "Let us invest in the elimination of hepatitis."
Ould Mohamed said that his country had made efforts to eradicate the disease. Efforts included the establishment of a special institute for hepatic and viral infections in May.
He explained that the Institute is responsible for detecting the virus and providing vaccination against it, in addition to treating the infected and follow-up their conditions. It also raises awareness of the need for an early medical check-up, noting that medicines are available for free in all hospitals of the country. Mohamed did not specify the percentages of the infected with each type of hepatitis, but previous medical reports have reported that hepatitis B is the most prevalent in the country.
July 28 falls in the birthday of the Nobel Prize winner, Dr Baruch Bloomberg, who discovered the hepatitis B virus and developed a diagnostic test and a vaccine against it.
World Health Organization figures indicate that hepatitis B and C kill more people each year than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. Moreover, two out of three liver cancer death cases worldwide are caused by hepatitis.
There are several causes of hepatitis infection, including contaminated food or water, blood transfusion or contaminated blood products, using contaminated medical equipment, sexual contact, and injections using contaminated syringes or syringes' needles.