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APOPO's mission is to develop detection rats technology to provide solutions for global problems and inspire positive social change. APOPO's vision is to solve pressing humanitarian challenges with detection rats technology. Our core values are: Quality - Demonstrating and promoting high standards in research, design, training and implementation of detection rats technology. Social Transformation - Developing skills, creating jobs, improving socio-economic and environmental conditions, releasing land for development, and combating public health issues. Innovation - Pioneering creative research and innovative solutions within a participatory learning culture. Diversity - Embracing diversity...
Sep 24, 2013

HeroRAT August 2013 Newsletter

In this issue: 

  • 26 HeroRATs deployed to support mine clearance in Mozambique
  • TB testing for HIV sufferers
  • Germany continues to support APOPO in Thailand
  • Swimming for the HeroRATs: Ironman Ethan
  • TB lab in Mozambique inaugurated
  • Training HeroRATs; Training staff

26 HeroRATs deployed to support mine clearance in Mozambique

Last week 26 Mine Detection Rats (MDR’s) were deployed to Mozambique. These rats will go through a period of acclimatization and training in order to pass an official external accreditation test according to International Mine Action Standards (IMAS). Once passed the rats and their trainers will be officially licensed for operational work and can begin to work with their HeroRAT comrades in the minefields. So far, a total of 2,546 landmines have been found and neutralized, and a total of 7,850,234m2 of land returned to the population, safe to be used for agriculture and grazing.

TB testing for HIV sufferers

The 19th International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Conference was held in Kigali, Rwanda on the 20 - 22 of June, 2013. Dr. Negussie Beyene, APOPO’s Program Manager for the TB program made an oral presentation about rat TB detection and working with local NGO’s to track down TB sufferers diagnosed by the rats after having being missed by the microscopy labs.

In order to track these patients APOPO partners with one Tanzanian NGO MKUTA, composed of former TB patients and has managed to establish yet another partnership with PASADA who target HIV sufferers for TB testing by the rats.

Germany continues to support APOPO in Thailand

His Excellency Ambassador Rolf Schulze and APOPO Program Manager for Thailand Kim Warren, recently signed an agreement granting 281,550 EURO from Germany to support APOPO’s efforts to improve security in mine affected communities in Thailand.

"German foreign policy traditionally attaches great importance to humanitarian demining worldwide”, said the ambassador. " I am happy to continue our successful cooperation with APOPO and its partners, the Thai Mine Action Committee and Peace Roads Organization. It is a modest contribution to making people's lives safer and return land to the use of local communities along the border."

Germany, has been supporting APOPO in Thailand since 2012 along with Liechtenstein, Germany and Stichting Doen.

Swimming for the HeroRATs: Ironman Ethan

On Sunday 18th August, long-term APOPO and HeroRAT supporter Ethan Herschenfeld competed in the Mont Tremblant Ironman contest in Canada for which he’s been training like mad, closely watched by APOPO. Here’s his story: “The day began at 5 a.m. with the walk from my hotel to the start line where it turned out I was the only athlete of around 3,000 competitors not wearing a wetsuit. I’m accustomed to outdoor swimming from my dips in the Hudson with New York City swim (NYC Swim). That, along with the word ‘APOPO’ which I’d scrawled all over my body, got a lot of attention before I even jumped into the water and the voice of Mike Reilly, the official ‘Voice of the Ironman’ screamed out over the loudspeaker: "Hey! There's one guy without a wetsuit!! What does it say on his chest? APOPO?"... Read more about Ironman Ethan's Big Day here.

TB lab in Mozambique inaugurated

The first APOPO TB research lab was established in Morogoro, Tanzania in 2005, and since 2008, the HeroRATs have delivered very promising results, with a reported increase of 43% in the tuberculosis detection rates in the samples evaluated. There are now a total of 17 collaborating clinics in Dar es Salaam, 182,742 sputum samples screened since 2007, and 3,862 additional TB patients identified by rats.

With the aim of replicating the results obtained in Tanzania, APOPO opened its operations in the Republic of Mozambique earlier this year, thus contributing to the Ministry of Health efforts to control tuberculosis in the country. A laboratory opening was held on June 28th, 2013 and APOPO will now evaluate the samples coming from patients with suspected tuberculosis. The host was University Eduardo Mondlane, with the University’s Chancellor presiding over the ceremony.

Training HeroRATs; Training staff

In Mozambique, APOPO recently carried out a manual deminer training session for 26 trainees. In order to support local employment, candidates of trainings are recruited from communities where APOPO is working. All candidates scored well enough to be hired by APOPO.

Read more about our mine action activities. 

26 HeroRATs sent to Mozambique for mine detection
26 HeroRATs sent to Mozambique for mine detection
HeroRAT detects TB
HeroRAT detects TB
Swimming for the HeroRATs: Ethan Herschenfeld
Swimming for the HeroRATs: Ethan Herschenfeld
Aug 20, 2013

APOPO's work in Mozambique

The HeroRATs save thousands of lives
The HeroRATs save thousands of lives

The first APOPO TB research laboratory was established in Morogoro, Tanzania in 2005. Since 2008, the HeroRATs have delivered promising results, with a reported increase of 43% in the tuberculosis detection rates in the samples evaluated. There are now a total of 17 collaborating clinics in Dar es Salaam, 178,425 sputum samples screened since 2007, and 3,788 TB positives identified by rats after being missed by microscopy.

With the aim of replicating the results obtained in Tanzania, APOPO opened its operations in the Republic of Mozambique earlier this year, thus contributing to the Ministry of Health efforts to control tuberculosis in the country. To conduct the research, a laboratory was built at Eduardo Mondlane University’s Veterinary School grounds and opened on June 28th, 2013. APOPO rats will evaluate the samples coming from patients with suspected tuberculosis, and any positives will be confirmed using fluorescence microscopy techniques. So far, there are 8 participating units in Maputo, and a total of 7,210 sputum samples screened since January. 

In regards to APOPO mine action, last week 26 Mine Detection Rats (MDR’s) were deployed to Mozambique. These rats will go through a period of acclimatization and training in order to pass an official external accreditation test according to International Mine Action Standards (IMAS). Once accredited, the rats and their trainers will be officially licensed for operational work and can begin to work with their HeroRAT colleagues in the minefields. So far, a total of 2,406 landmines have been found and neutralized. A total of 6,423,361m2 of land has been returned to the population, safe to be used for agriculture and grazing.

A HeroRAT plays after training
A HeroRAT plays after training

Links:

Jun 5, 2013

Hamisi the HeroRat has started training!

Hamisi learning to detect TB
Hamisi learning to detect TB

Dear Supporters, 

Thank you for your life-saving support to APOPO.  Due to your generosity, we have started training Hamisi, the HeroRat, to detect Tuberculosis (TB).  Here is what the journey of Hamisi will entail over his nine month training process.  This process forms the foundation for a successful 6-7 year lifespan of the TB detection rat to significantly impact the spread of tuberculosis.

3-4 weeks of age 

At 3-4 weeks old the baby rats can open their eyes and at this time they still live with their mothers, but minimal socialization by one of our caretakers can begin.

5-6 weeks of age

The rats are weaned from their mother, and they begin a period of socialization.  During this period, the caretaker and trainers expose the rats to different smells, sounds and textures, for example hearing music or a motorcycle engine, smelling flowers or coffee, exploring different surfaces like grass, concrete and soil, and going for a ride in the HeroRAT truck. This is an essential part of the training process: the rats need to feel comfortable and relaxed in the human environment they will be working in, to ensure they are not afraid.

Click training

After two weeks of nursing, the rats begin click training twice a day, in approximately 5 minute sessions. Here they learn to associate the “click” sound with a food reward. This takes place in a square glass-walled cage, with a small food hole in one wall. Immediately after the rat hears the “click”, the trainer gives them a mouthful of mushed banana and crushed pellets. Click training takes one-two weeks.

One hole and Three hole

Once the rats learn that “click” means food, trainers can begin to teach the rats that they must now find something in order for the “click” and subsequent food reward. They start with one hole in a three-hole cage. When the rat goes to the hole, they hear a “click” and must learn to return to the food hole to receive their reward. They do this twice a day for one week, for 5-10 minute sessions. Once the rat has learned to go to one hole and then respond correctly to the clicker, trainers begin to introduce more holes (3), with one positive and two neutral samples for a few weeks.

Multiple Sample Evaluation

The rat will move to a larger cage, which holds sample bars with each 10 samples under sniffing holes in a long stainless steel plate. In this training stage, the rat learns to evaluate large numbers of samples.  The rat is then trained in this setup for several months until the accuracy rate is at an acceptable level.  

TB Rat accreditation

APOPO's TB rats must pass an internal accreditation process before working under operational conditions. The test is conducted under blind conditions and to pass the rat must find every positive patient. 

Once Hamisi is accredited, Hamisi will then work for the next 5-6 years detecting thousands of sputum samples and detecting hundreds of TB patients originally missed by hospitals.

From APOPO and the future beneficiaries that Hamisi will help, a huge HeroRAT thank you!!

 

Hamisi with proud trainer Pius Wilbard
Hamisi with proud trainer Pius Wilbard

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