As the year draws to a close, the APOPO HeroRATs and humans hope that you had a peaceful, healthy and happy 2013. Because of the support and generosity of our friends around the world, APOPO and the HeroRATs can look back on the past year thus far as an amazing one with significant achievements and several milestones.
2013 saw dozens of HeroRATs trained and sent to start work detecting landmines in Angola and Mozambique as well as trained to detect TB in Tanzania and Mozambique. We passed the 4,500 mark for total TB patients detected meanwhile clearing over 8 million square meters of land in Mozamique throughout the years. The GlobalGiving community is a huge part of this success as you have helped us raise almost $300,000 over the years!
So we would like to take this moment to thank you for believing in us in 2013, and for giving us something to celebrate. We look forward to sharing more life-saving adventures with you in 2014.
Best wishes to you during the upcoming holiday season!
The HeroRAT Teamherorats@apopo.orgwww.apopo.orgfacebook.com/heroRATtwitter.com/heroRATs
In this issue:
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.
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.
Thailand offers its hospitality to millions of tourists every year and has become one of the biggest and most attractive tourist destinations in the world, charming its visitors with a rich array of history, culture, architecture and food. Yet few are aware of a considerable mine problem along the borders, especially with Cambodia, and that people living in these areas suffer from landmine accidents, fear of accidents and limited access to arable land.
What is it like to survive dangerous landmines? Watch this video, which features interviews with survivers, on APOPO's work in Thailand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yApYLbESJl0
APOPO has built upon the excellent start in Thailand in 2011 where it implemented a Non-Technical Survey (NTS) program along the Thailand-Cambodia border. APOPO has partnered with a local Thai NGO, Peace Roads Organisation (PRO) and has been working closely with the Thailand Mine Action Centre (TMAC) to systematically survey all minefields along the border in Trat & Buriram Provinces.
NTS gathers detailed information about mined areas including the number of mines, location and size. The consequence of this NTS process is that considerable time, effort and money will now not be wasted clearing land unnecessarily. This then increases the efficiency and effectiveness for the mine action programs and will assist Thailand meet its mine ban treaty obligations.
I once met a four-year-old boy while visiting a physical rehabilitation centre in Colombia. He sat on a small chair in front of a small table. A woman, probably his mother, accompanied him. A physiotherapist sat on the other side of the table. She was holding some cards in front of him, and it looked like they were playing a game. I could not be further off. The boy tried to manoeuvre his hand to grip the cards, but his hand had been replaced with a prosthesis.
He seemed so small and earnest in his struggles and I could not help but cursing whatever had caused the loss of this boy’s hand. There was a conflict, but that little boy should never have been the target. The landmine that “took” him could not discriminate between soldiers and children and would strike anyone who would come across it. Just like a soldier that never sleeps and keeps on fighting til the bitter end, decades after the real war has ended. The silent soldier kills, maims and injures its targets indiscriminately – 70 to 85% of landmine casualties are civilians.
Most countries that suffer from mines are war torn, with poor or non-existing health care services. Many landmine victims will never receive the care and treatment that they need and should receive. The four-year-old boy has only begun his lifelong struggle. He is one of several hundreds of children and adults that fall victims of landmines each year. As the boy grows, he will require a new prosthesis every six months. He is probably luckier than most other mine victims, but this is poor consolation. For his and other victims’ sake, we cannot afford to slow down our efforts to rid the world of mines.
Finding and clearing mines is time-consuming, slow and dangerous. The problem is too big and has taken too long to get rid of, meaning that funds are drying out due to donor fatigue. For people who live among landmines, life will only be truly good when the last landmine has left the ground. Creating cost-effective, high-impact mine removal programs is therefore necessary to eliminate the mines left in former and active conflict regions around the world, such as Mozambique, Cambodia and Angola.
Clearance operations, however, are known to be slow and costly. In the past, it was found that clearance had been conducted in areas that contained no mines, because they can be hard to locate. In order to clear mines from the right areas, systematic collection of information prior to clearance is essential. This process is now often referred to as non-technical survey, which combines a desk assessment with field observations and informant interviews. The survey gathers and analyses past records, land use and visible signs of mines. The aim is to use survey tools, both non-technical and technical assets, such as manual deminers or mine detections rats (MDRs), to reduce the need for full clearance, which is more expensive and time consuming.
Low-cost mine identification and removal tools are also needed to maximize available resources. APOPO, for example, works with rats to aid this process. Rats are a very efficient tool for releasing large mine suspected areas and can help free areas from the threat of landmines efficiently and at very low costs. Our ultimate goal is to reach the zero new landmine victims goal in the countries where we work. It’s a hairy goal but we cannot aim for any less.
Read the original article on The Humanitas Global Development Blog.
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Tanzania, United Republic of
Tanzania, United Republic of