APOPO is a global non-profit with Belgian roots that trains African giant pouched rats (nicknamed HeroRATs) to detect landmines or tuberculosis using their extraordinary sense of smell. APOPO's scent detection technology has a massive potential to relieve human suffering and promote development when used in TB- and landmine-response, as well as in currently unexplored fields. APOPO has programs in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola, Cambodia and Zimbabwe.
Landmines injure or kill innocent civilians every day and pose a structural barrier to development, long after war ends. Trained HeroRATs can quickly and accurately find landmines, significantly speeding up clearing minefields. Meanwhile of the 10 million new cases of tuberculosis (TB) yearly, 3 million people remain undiagnosed. APOPO's HeroRATs quickly sniff out TB in human sputum samples, helping to find more TB-positive patients so partner clinics can get them on life-saving treatment.
Detection rats offer an efficient and accurate alternative to combat global humanitarian challenges. APOPO uses a readily available resource, and involves and employs local communities in the solution - thereby helping to initiate development and create positive social change. Our TB detection rats are at least as accurate as conventional routine microscopy, but up to 20 times faster. Our Mine detection rats can search 200m2 in 20 mins, with a metal detector this could take up to 4 days.
By creating local employment and encouraging development, APOPO provides a cost-effective solution to global humanitarian challenges. The work of our trained rats reduces landmine casualties, and enables communities to utilize their land for agricultural purposes or infrastructure development. Also, fast, effective TB diagnosis means patients can access treatment sooner, reducing the spread of the deadly virus and limiting the impact on the patient's family and the wider community.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).
TEDx talk by APOPO Founder Bart Weetjens
Research Rats that tackle Tuberculosis
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HeroRATs on Twitter