Maria fell ill after nursing her husband back to health.

“My name is Maria Nhamtumbo, I am 39 years old and I have 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls. I believe I contracted tuberculosis (TB) from my husband while caring for him during his illness. There is often a negative stigma in the community about TB, but I know that with proper treatment I can be fully cured of my TB. It helped that my husband went through it first, so I learnt a lot from that time. I was relieved that my friends and people from my church were actually very kind and open to my diagnosis.

TB affected my work and income drastically. I became extremely weak and felt constant pain. I did not have an appetite, so I became very weak. My clinic sent my sample to be tested by APOPO. Once I tested positive for TB by the HeroRATs, APOPO’s lab confirmed the rat findings and notified my clinic. I was very relieved that I could begin treatment. I had regular TB which meant taking a few different antibiotics for 6 months with regular re-testing and continuous medication. Eventually my tests came back negative! I am very grateful that APOPO and the HeroRATs provided a quick and accurate diagnosis, and their partner community health workers (Kenguelekeze) encouraged me throughout the process. Without a diagnosis I would not have been able to receive treatment. Without treatment I could have died or passed it on to one of my children.

I was so amazed to see the African giant pouched rats that APOPO trains to detect TB. At first, I was worried that the HeroRATs could smell the TB on me and I wasn’t sure what they would do. But in fact they played a crucial role in finding the bacteria in my heat-inactivated sputum sample. Now, I advise people to visit any health clinic that has partnered with APOPO to be tested. Thank you APOPO for saving my life and allowing me to get back on track.”


It is often the poorest who are affected by tuberculosis. You can create real and lasting change in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.