April 1st, 2015 by Tom

APOPO, a Belgian NGO with Tanzanian headquarters, has developed an innovative and safe method using African giant pouched rats, nicknamed “HeroRATs”, to detect TB and land mines using their extraordinary sense of smell. APOPO’s TB program is the largest example of operationalized disease detection by animals in the world. Since beginning of operations, APOPO has diagnosed over 11,000 TB patients who were missed by the hospitals. TB detection has improved by over 45% at partner clinics in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Maputo, Mozambique.

APOPO’s detection rats work up to 50 times faster than conventional methods, and have the capacity to revaluate all of the sputum samples of major cities in less than a couple of hours. No other existing technology would permit such volume in such a short time period. APOPO’s rats in Tanzania currently screen over 150 samples a day.

APOPO’s detections rats have most social impact when:
1. Throughput of samples from presumptive TB patients can be maximized
2. Diagnostic delay can be minimized