Over 250,000 patients tested!

APOPO TB achieves a new milestone.

This month APOPO reached the landmark of having re-tested over quarter a million patients with signs and symptoms of tuberculosis (TB), across sites, since the APOPO TB-detection research program began in 2007.

APOPO’s programs work within government health systems to support over 100 partner clinics in Tanzania, Mozambique and Ethiopia in their fight against TB. According to estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO), about half of the TB patients in these countries are ‘missed’. Some remain untested or unreported because of social or economic barriers that prevent them from accessing healthcare at their local clinics. Yet even when patients are able to overcome these barriers, the quality of health systems varies and there are limitations to the available diagnostic tools at clinics, resulting in some patients being sent home undiagnosed and without treatment.

Being left untreated may not only prove lethal to the patient, but someone with untreated infectious TB can pass the pathogen on to up to 15 other people in a year. This creates a vicious cycle and as a result, over one and a half million people die each year from this curable disease.

Meet Asma in Tanzania, at first Asma’s tuberculosis went undetected by her local clinic.

“For three months, nobody knew why I was so sick and eventually I passed my sickness on to my daughter. Because I was not diagnosed, we thought, and hoped, that she was just teething. Eventually APOPO found my TB and saved both our lives.”

Asma Mahamud, TB survivor

Globally, the WHO estimates that just over a third of the 10 million TB patients were “missed”, which translates to 3.6 million people each year that have not received a diagnosis or appropriate treatment. To improve detection, diagnosis and treatment rates, WHO, the Stop TB Partnership and the Global Fund launched a new initiative in 2018, Find. Treat. All. #EndTB, which set the target of providing quality care to 40 million people with TB from 2018 to 2022.

APOPO contributes to finding these missing TB-patients by:

  • Offering fast TB diagnostics with the help of African giant pouched rats, nicknamed HeroRATs. APOPO collects sputum samples that have already been tested by microscopy in partner clinic labs and retests them using first the HeroRATs and then, for samples found positive by our rats, WHO-endorsed confirmation tests resulting in an increase in case detection of about 40%. In this way APOPO has found over 14,700 TB-patients who were initially tested negative.
  • Partnering with community-based organizations who help with patient tracking. They help newly diagnosed TB patients to get started on their TB treatment and to finish the full course of medication.

"Our experiences from Mozambique and Tanzania show that it really takes both, speedy testing and community health worker support, to make ‘Find & Treat’ come true for more and more patients.”

Dr Lena Fiebig, APOPO Head of Tuberculosis


APOPO's TB programs are most grateful for the support and generous contributions of all partners and donors.