Polish support for TB clinics in Dodoma and Morogoro regions

Polish Aid supports APOPO TB detection in Tanzania.

This week, the APOPO team was thrilled to host representatives from the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tanzania at our Training and Research Centre in Morogoro.

Tanzania is one of the most important partners of Poland in East Africa and a priority country of the Polish Development cooperation. The dynamic relationship is also marked by the opening of a new Polish Embassy in Dar es Salaam in 2017. The Polish Development Cooperation Program, Polish Aid, is strongly committed to create conditions for sustainable development.

Moreover, the Embassy of Poland directly enables local projects, which enhance the lives of socially disadvantaged groups and provide them with better prospects for the future. Special emphasis is placed on supporting education and social and vocational empowerment, environmental protection and health care projects that directly reach their beneficiaries.

This year, APOPO was granted support for detecting additional tuberculosis (TB) cases in Dodoma and Morogoro region from July to December 2019. The Polish Embassy grant allowed APOPO to initiate partnerships with three new hospitals and health centres in Dodoma and two new facilities in Morogoro region, as well as to pursue the collaboration with our established clinic network in the regions.

Despite global commitments to End TB as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, finding and treating all TB cases remains a challenge – worldwide, but in particular in high TB burden, low resource settings. The World Health Organization estimates that in Tanzania only 53% of all patients ill with TB were actually diagnosed and treated last year. Left undiagnosed and untreated, TB patients can pass the pathogen to others, and up to two thirds of TB patients will eventually die.

APOPO is tackling this gap by providing a rapid second look into the patients’ samples, using a motorbike and bus sample referral system, and using trained TB detection rats (for research use) combined with standard TB tests at our lab and returning confirmed additional results back to our partner clinics. We task community volunteers from our trusted partner organization MKUTA to track all patients who receive a positive test result and encourage them to return to clinics and start their free TB treatment.

The beneficiaries of this combined “TB detection and linkage to care” approach are vulnerable populations at risk of TB including children and people living with HIV. They typically have low income and inadequate access to quality healthcare. Early detection and treatment help to curb TB and its socio-economic consequences.

APOPO greatly acknowledges the Embassy of Poland in Tanzania for their great support to our TB Detection work and their visit in Morogoro!