New TB Partners and the Community

By Dr. Emilio Valverde | Country Program Manager, APOPO TB Mozambique

APOPO partners with Associação Kenguelekezé to increase TB-patient tracking in Maputo.

With many social issues, the tuberculosis pandemic included, global response is not just fighting infection, but other challenges as well. TB patients face stigmatisation and social isolation as well as economic problems such as transport costs and loss of salary. Combined, these can prevent them from getting tested and on treatment in the first place, as well as staying on it. Treatment defaulting is one of the major causes of the failure of TB control programs. Considering that one person with active TB can infect up to 15 others in a year it is very important to make sure those that have been diagnosed start and stay on treatment in order to break the cycle.

This is where Associação Kenguelekezé comes in.

Associação Kenguelekezé is a non-profit community organization based in northern Maputo. Kenguelekezé, which means dawn of a new day, aims to organize communities to be at the forefront in fighting major public health problems in Mozambique such as Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Since July 2017, Kenguelekezé partnered with APOPO in order to carry out a pilot project in two clinics, namely Polana Caniço General Hospital and Chamanculo General Hospital. During this pilot the clinics gave them information on additional TB-patients found by APOPO, they actively sought out 85 patients to verify they were on treatment and if found not to be - to get them to the clinics as fast as possible.

Kenguelekezé located 95% of the missing patients - 82% of whom were immediately put on treatment. Some patients refused treatment mainly due to the stigma and discrimination around TB. All refusal cases are communicated to the health authorities and community leaders so they can try and get through to the patients to allow themselves to be treated. Sadly for others it was too late, they had already passed away - their fear of being identified as having tuberculosis was too strong and by the time they came to get checked the disease had progressed to such an extent that hey didn't have much time left.

Kenguelekezé also carries out discussion sessions in communities to raise awareness about tuberculosis and attempt to break the stigma, as well as teach people the importance of following through on treatment. As a result of this new partnership Maputo patient recovery rates are increasing and with patient location rates so high, an expansion of the collaboration to all 14 clinics supported by APOPO was initiated in December 2017.

The APOPO research project at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) collects human sputum samples from 14 public health clinics in Mozambique, all of which are located in Maputo. These clinics test the samples for tuberculosis before passing them on to APOPO to conduct its operational research using trained rats.

When a rat indicates a sample as TB-suspect, the APOPO lab uses WHO endorsed methods to confirm the presence of mycobacteria. A significant proportion of rat indicated samples are confirmed as tuberculosis by those standard methods. Once APOPO confirms the rat indicated samples to indeed be TB-positive using WHO endorsed methods, the partner clinic is alerted so they can bring in the patient as soon as possible to start treatment immediately.

In this way APOPO is helping the partner clinics in Maputo to increase their TB detection rates by 50%.


APOPO would like to recognize the partnership and commitment of APOPO’s donors and partners
whose generous support make our life-saving work possible.