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Rats for TB control in Maputo city

In 2011, Mozambique reported an estimated TB prevalence of 548 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, versus a global prevalence of 170 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Like in other Sub-Saharan African countries, co-infection with HIV is an important factor; in Mozambique more than 60% of the tested TB patients are infected with the HIV virus.

The APOPO TB project in the city of Maputo, Mozambique, intends to replicate the activities and successful results obtained by TB detection rats in Tanzania. In implementing this project, APOPO expects to contribute to the Mozambican National TB Control Program by effectively increasing the number of identified TB patients in a short period. Also, project implementation aims to create a local capacity of TB detection rats and trainers to support a long term impact on reducing the TB problem in Mozambique. For this purpose, APOPO is partnering with the Mozambican Ministry of Health and the Eduardo Mondlane University through a series of institutions, namely the National Institute of Health, the National TB Control Program, Medicine and Veterinary Schools, and the Maputo City Health Directorate.

In starting the project, APOPO has built and equipped a TB detection rat facility at the Vet School of the Eduardo Mondlane University. A total of eight health centers in the city of Maputo are collaborating with the project, providing sputum samples of TB suspected patients. APOPO rats evaluate all suspected samples, indicating additional TB cases initially missed by microscopy tests performed at health centers. Those samples indicated by the rats are confirmed by LED microscopy, a more sensitive laboratory technique. The additional positive samples detected by the rats are communicated back to the health centers, thus allowing them to trace the patients back and start them on TB treatment.

At the end of this first phase, APOPO expects to have its detection rat technology well established in the city of Maputo and improving significantly the TB detection rates at participant health centers.

A second phase will then start where APOPO will seek to increase the number of collaborating health centers, both in the city of Maputo and the rest of the country. A number of clinical and epidemiological studies are being planned to further strengthen the APOPO detection rat technology.

As a summary, thousands of TB cases which otherwise would be missed by conventional microscopy will be diagnosed by APOPO'’s innovative technology and will be treated effectively by the National TB Program.

Edson Manhica, HeroRAT Trainer

Edson Manhica, HeroRAT Trainer

We are going back to help Mozambique. We had the best trainers in Tanzania who prepared us to kick TB out of our country, and stop it from spreading further.

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