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Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions

by APOPO vzw
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Celine at Point Defiance Zoo, Washington.
Celine at Point Defiance Zoo, Washington.

Hello and thank you for your continued support. We're delighted to bring you the following update on Q3 of 2019 which has certainly been busy for humans and HeroRATs alike!

APOPO's HeroRATs make it in America

In July 2019 we were thrilled to introduce three very important ambassadors who travelled all the way from Tanzania to the United States - more specifically - to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, which was the first zoo to demonstrate to the American public how HeroRATs save lives through mock landmine detection training demonstrations.

HeroRATs Celine, Chiku and Mona Lisa took three flights to get to their new home at Tacoma, Washington in May. Before leaving they received all their vaccinations, and the long journey from Africa to America was broken up into shorter segments with regular checks along the way. They travelled thousands of miles away from home and took it all in stride. Yet again, the HeroRATs showed us how resilient they are as a species.

After getting ample time to rest up in quarantine under close monitoring from Zoo veterinarians, the rats were introduced to their new homes and their zoo caretakers. Once they were comfortable with the team and happy in their environment they were gradually introduced to short training sessions for their mock landmine training demonstration routines before having their debut in front of zoo visitors on July 20th.

Cultural Celebrations in Tanzania

The first week of August brought a celebration of agriculture in Tanzania and APOPO participated alongside partner the Sokoine University of Agriculture. The week celebrated important contributions from farmers to the Tanzanian economy and showcases new technologies, ideas, discoveries and alternative solutions that will help to improve the agricultural sector. Companies, NGOs, farmers, regional and local officials as well as the general public are drawn to see the latest developments and opportunities. The HeroRATs attracted a lot of attention and shone a spotlight on the lifesaving work APOPO does.

In Tanzania, rats are generally considered a destructive pest, ruining crops and getting into food stores. In fact, most farmers will usually try to get rid of them when found on their land. It’s always good to have the opportunity to show people that rats are intelligent creatures that are very capable of saving lives. The exhibition allowed APOPO to inform local communities about the rats, but also the issues they are helping to solve such as the fight to end tuberculosis (TB) and breaking the stigma that is associated with the disease. Highlights were a visit from the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Japhet Hasunga and also the Acting Regional Medical Officer of Simiyu Dr. Maeka who expressed great interest in our TB detection research.

APOPO presents HeroRATs at CITES Conference

Between 17-28 August 2019, our partner Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) of South Africa and APOPO attended the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference in Geneva, Switzerland. CITES is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The objective of the Convention is to conserve wildlife and prevent international trade from pushing species into extinction.

APOPO established a partnership with the EWT in 2016 to collaborate on a proof-of-concept research study to examine the abilities of the HeroRATs to detect the world’s most widely trafficked mammal, pangolin, as well as illegally logged and trafficked African hardwood. APOPO has finished the first phase of the study successfully showing that the rats are not only able to sniff out pangolin scales and hardwood but that they can differentiate them from common masking items.

With international momentum to tackle illegal wildlife trade continuing to grow, over 2200 participants met at the world’s most important wildlife trade meeting – the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES). APOPO’s Dr Miriam Schneider travelled to Geneva to attend the conference and was given the unique opportunity to present the findings of the study at a side event of the conference: “Harnessing tools and technologies for wildlife law enforcement”.

Dr Schneider was able to promote APOPO’s work on a broad international platform and gain a better grasp of the current situation and developments in the wildlife trade. It also offered a chance to network with wildlife law enforcement officials and NGOs that could help to decide possible future methods for the rats to combat trafficking in real-life settings.

Little by Little Successes

In September 2019 we participated in Global Giving's Little by Little campaign which saw an outpouring of donations via the platform. Our incredible donors raised us to pole position where we stayed until closing which meant we won an additional $4,000 in bonus payments from Global Giving meaning the total amount raised was $21,635! We cannot thank you enough for the generous donations received, all of which will go towards funding the lifesaving work we carry out on a daily basis. 

Thank you for being wonderful supporters.


APOPO staff show off HeroRATs at agriculture shows
APOPO staff show off HeroRATs at agriculture shows
APOPO
APOPO's Dr Schneider presents at CITES conference

As we referenced in our last project update, Global Giving's July Bonus Day TODAY and we wanted to remind you of the opportunity to make your donation count for more, without any extra cost to you.

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For TODAY ONLY from 09:00:00 ET to 23:59:59 ET your eligible donations from $100 to $1000 will be matched whilst $250,000 in matching funds remain. 

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Your donations through Global Giving go directly towards supporting our HeroRATs as they carry out their lifesaving missions across the world. With so many countries still facing the threat of landmines and tuberculosis, your continued support is of great importance to us as we continue our fight against these indiscriminate killers. 

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The work you fund goes to support people like Historia and you can read her story below:

"I remember growing up during the war. Those were terrifying times, so much violence, hatred, death, and destruction. I thought it would never end. When it was over in 2002 all we wanted was to return to normality. Instead, we found we could not go home because the land was not safe. Landmines were buried by the Angolan Armed Forces to defend the village of Quitexe. Paths, roads, fields and bridges had been mined. You’d think war was painful enough, so many people lost everything. Yet we continued living in fear of injury or death from a landmine or losing crucial livestock.

I am thankful for the work that APOPO and the HeroRATs have done. This community is finally safe. I am really happy and excited. Children play and go to school freely without us having to worry all the time. Safe access to the village also means more traders will come, allowing us to sell produce at good prices. I know that the future will be bright for us. Life in Quitexe is returning to normal. I hope that my youngest child will grow up not even knowing what a landmine is.”

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On behalf of Historia, and all of us here at APOPO, thank you for your incredible support.

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Historia
Historia's land is safe thanks to donors like you.
An Angola HeroRAT in the field.
An Angola HeroRAT in the field.
An Angola HeroRAT with trainer in the field.
An Angola HeroRAT with trainer in the field.
New HeroRATs for Angola (photo Allan Staley)
New HeroRATs for Angola (photo Allan Staley)

Another busy quarter has passed us by and we're delighted to bring you the following update.

Landmine Detection

This quarter was an exciting time as we celebrated not only International Landmine Awareness Day but also the accreditation of 9 new Mine Detection Rats for Cambodia. The rats arrived from Tanzania at the end of April and were warmly welcomed by the Cambodian team. 

The HeroRATs went through an intensive 6-week acclimatization and training period. This involved getting used to new sights, sounds and smells as well as getting to know their new Cambodian handlers and vice versa.

On June 12th-13th APOPO hosted representatives from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) Headquarters, our long-term implementation partner in Cambodia, for external double-blind testing of the freshly trained and newly imported MDR. The two days of testing were held on a test minefield prepared by the CMAC representatives.

The accreditation is “double-blind” because both rats and the handlers are unaware of where the targets are buried, which are known only to the representatives who had them marked on a map. Each of the rats had to search a box of 200 square metres, and all of them correctly indicated the targets within a one-meter radius, with not a single one missed. This reflects the high level of mine detection skill of the MDR and their handlers as well as the quality of the breeding and training at APOPO’s Headquarters and training centre in Morogoro, Tanzania. 

Tuberculosis Detection

In March we celebrated World Tuberculosis Day with a theme of 'It's Time'. 

We took a moment to consider how APOPO researches TB detection rats which are incredibly fast: one rat can screen 100 samples in just 20 minutes. We use our rapid rats as a “failsafe” – re-evaluating human sputum samples delivered from partner clinics. A sample indicated positive by a rat undergoes confirmation testing with internationally approved tests before the result is returned to the clinic. This approach helps to increase TB case detection by about 40%.

We also considered our other activities which are also very much centred around speeding things up: our motorbike sample referral systems in Dar es Salaam, Maputo and Addis Ababa, our rapid testing and result turnaround within 24 hours and prompt action to make sure newly diagnosed patients get on with their TB treatment immediately. Beyond that, a new study has started to find out whether our TB detection rats can identify TB earlier than conventional methods. 

 

As always, it's with your incredible, ongoing support that we and our HeroRATs are able to continue in their missions. Your support allows us to look to the future and develop new humanitarian applications for the rats’ powerful sense of smell.

With the future in mind, Global Giving's July 18th Bonus Day is fast approaching and we'll be participating - we hope you can too.

On 18th July ONLY Global Giving will be matching donations from $100 to $1,000 whilst $130,000 in matching funds remain. The higher your donation, the higher the match!

We'll also be participating in Global Giving's August Little by Little campaign from 12th to 16th August and where smaller donations up to $50 will be matched at 50% and higher. More on that to follow!

From all of us here at APOPO - thank you for your support.

A Landmine Detection Rat (photo Allan Staley)
A Landmine Detection Rat (photo Allan Staley)
A TB Detection Rat
A TB Detection Rat
Jumanne the Landmine Detection Rat and her trainer
Jumanne the Landmine Detection Rat and her trainer

The start to the 2019 year has been a successful one for us here at APOPO as we continue in our fight against landmines and tuberculosis (TB), with your incredible support. With World TB Day already under our belt and International Landmine Awareness Day still to come this April 4th, we have been able to take time out to review the successes of 2018 and 2019, so far. 

Landmine Detection Cambodia

In 2018 APOPO Cambodia began working in two provinces concurrently, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) to commence an additional mine clearance project in Preah Vihear province, running in parallel with our Siem Reap operations. Our work was further boosted in late 2018 through a renewed MoU for the continuation of our landmine detection rat and Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) clearance operations in Siem Reap for 2019.

About half of Cambodia’s minefields have been cleared and yet it still remains one of the most heavily impacted countries in the world. Leftover landmines and explosives from conflict are still a major hindrance to the social and economic development of the country. They block access to fertile land for agriculture, water sources, and travel routes, and isolate communities from health services. With among the highest number of landmine victims across the globe, the remaining threat imposes financial and emotional burdens on families needing to care for a landmine survivor.

Our renewed MoU with CMAC means we will be able to continue to work to clear land for local communities. CMAC has been integrating our Landmine Detection Rats into its programs since 2015 and we have achieved remarkable results; there is hope that this continuing partnership will enable the clearance of over 1,500,000 square metres in 2019.

Landmine Detection Angola

Since beginning our work in Angola in 2012 APOPO has helped our partner, Norwegian People’s Aid, to find and destroy landmines and other explosive remnants of war, releasing over 1.1 million m2 of safe area and helping thousands of people back on their land.

In 2018 our work continued as we welcomed a further 16 Landmine Detection Rats to our Angola operations to further bolster capacity. All 16 rats took the long journey from Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, arriving successfully in Uíge province, Angola having undertaken, and passed, independent testing by our partner, the National Intersectoral Commission for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance (CNIDAH).

Further good news came in the form of a continuation of support from the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation, an important partner of our work in Angola since 2017. With their continued support, and the increased capacity from 16 new Landmine Detection Rats, we were able to continue our work to provide a landmine-free Angola to its people by 2025 in accordance with Article 5 of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC).

Despite the work already carried out, Angola remains blighted by large swathes of land contaminated by landmines and other explosive remnants of war with an estimated one-fifth of the population being affected. Our work must continue to make an impact to ensure local communities are provided with security, opening up opportunities for development, farming, and recreation without fear.

TB Detection

In February 2019, APOPO was delighted to be invited by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to share a case study on our TB detection program in the companion volume of the new SDG-themed “Leaving No One Behind” OECD Development Cooperation Report. We live in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 global goals were set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, succeeding the Millennium Development Goals, to collectively work towards “the future we want”.

APOPO clearly identifies with the SDG. With our tuberculosis (TB) detection program, we strive for Goal 3: ensuring good health and promoting well-being, and for making our contribution to target 3.3, to end the epidemics of tuberculosis (amongst other diseases) by 2030. APOPO researches TB detection rats which are incredibly fast: one rat can screen 100 samples in just 20 minutes. We use our rapid rats as a “failsafe” – re-evaluating human sputum samples delivered from partner clinics. A sample indicated positive by a rat undergoes confirmation testing with internationally approved tests before the result is returned to the clinic. This approach helps to increase TB case detection by about 40%.

By now, we have tested over half a million samples for TB, found more than 14,700 additional TB cases, and have joined forces with community partners to make sure that ‘Test’ also means ‘Treat’. In the last couple of years, partnering with community-based organizations have helped APOPO track down newly diagnosed TB patients in Tanzania and Mozambique and enable 80% of them to promptly start their TB treatment which usually involves the patient taking a combination of different TB drugs. If the correct drugs are taken for the entire duration of treatment, then for most patients this will cure the TB.

Our other activities in the field are also very much centred around speeding things up: our motorbike sample referral systems in Dar es Salaam, Maputo and Addis Ababa, our rapid testing and result turnaround within 24 hours and prompt action to make sure newly diagnosed patients get on with their TB treatment immediately. Beyond that, a new study has started to find out whether our TB detection rats can identify TB earlier than conventional methods.

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In spite of our successes, much work remains to realise a world free of mines and TB. We are forging ahead through the course of 2019 with a renewed focus on the continuation of our efforts to bring good health, security, peace and the chance of development to the communities within which we work. With your continued support, we will be able to do so.

On that note, GlobalGiving's Little x Little campaign is fast approaching. Between 00:00hrs on April 8th through 23:59hrs on April 12th all eligible donations up to $50 will be matched at 50% at no extra cost to you. There will be $50,000 in matching funds available and we'd love you to help us by making your donation go further! Keep your eyes peeled for our further project appeal email on April 8th. 

Thank you for your incredible support for our work. 

A deminer searches the field in Angola
A deminer searches the field in Angola
TB Detection Rat Genovive in the lab
TB Detection Rat Genovive in the lab
Sputum samples ready for testing
Sputum samples ready for testing
Over 250,000 patients tested
Over 250,000 patients tested

It's thanks to your incredible support that we were able to continue our fight against landmines and tuberculosis in late 2018 and early 2019 - we've certainly been kept busy and great progress has been made.

Tuberculosis Detection

From the 24th to 27th of October 2018, we attend the 49th World Conference on Lung Health of International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Health (The Union) in The Hague, The Netherlands. The Hague Union conference welcomed more than 4,000 delegates from around the world, and united researchers and health professionals committed to Lung Health and to the fight against tuberculosis (TB). It was inspired by emerging science as well as the recent political commitments made at the UN High-Level Meeting on TB.

Our contribution showed that in 2017, after opening the new Dar es Salaam lab and introducing same-day TB testing of the samples, 81% of the newly diagnosed TB patients started TB treatment, compared to 71% in the year before. These results support that the combination of our faster diagnostic service and patient tracking are key in achieving higher treatment initiation rates among TB patients in Tanzania. 

This month, we reached the landmark of having re-tested over a quarter of a million patients with signs and symptoms of tuberculosis (TB), across sites, since the APOPO TB-detection research program began in 2007.

Our programs work within government health systems to support over 100 partner clinics in Tanzania, Mozambique and Ethiopia in their fight against TB. According to estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO), about half of the TB patients in these countries are ‘missed’. Some remain untested or unreported because of social or economic barriers that prevent them from accessing healthcare at their local clinics. Yet even when patients are able to overcome these barriers, the quality of health systems varies and there are limitations to the available diagnostic tools at clinics, resulting in some patients being sent home undiagnosed and without treatment.

Globally, the WHO estimates that just over a third of the 10 million TB patients were “missed”, which translates to 3.6 million people each year who have not received a diagnosis or appropriate treatment. To improve detection, diagnosis and treatment rates, WHO, the Stop TB Partnership and the Global Fund launched a new initiative in 2018 which set the target of providing quality care to 40 million people with TB from 2018 to 2022.

 

Landmine Detection

On 17th December 2018, we met with the Cambodia Mine Action Center's (CMAC) Director-General and His Excellency Heng Ratana in Phnom Penh to sign a memorandum of understanding for the continuation of APOPO’s Mine Detection Rat and CMAC mine clearance operations in Siem Reap province in 2019. 

His Excellency Heng Ratana explained that CMAC has been integrating mine detection rats into its programs since 2015 and has achieved remarkable results. He hopes this partnership will enable clearing over 1,500,000 m2 in 2019.

As part of an integrated capacity, mine detection animals will significantly increase productivity and allow the return of much-needed land back to affected communities more quickly and cost-effectively.

On 16th January 2019 we, along with our partner CMAC, were thrilled to announce the completion of a minefield in Dai Ao village of the Sre Noi Commune in Varin District. A handover ceremony was held to release 520,257 square meters of land back to the community that was cleared in the second half of 2018.

The land was officially handed back to the villagers of Dai Ao who were living in and around the large minefield, until APOPO arrived and started clearing the land, metre by metre. In a country where poverty is widespread, cultivating land is an important source of income. When the ground is contaminated with landmines this can create an impossible choice. All too often, the urgent need to support growing families means using dangerous ground is necessary.

The clearance was carried out using 3 different teams that worked tirelessly together for 6 months – a vegetation cutting machine team to prepare the land before the rat teams go on, a landmine detection rat (MDR) team of 8 handlers and 12 rats, a manual demining team using metal detectors to confirm rat findings and prepare boxes for the rats. They found and safely destroyed 187 landmines and 120 unexploded remnants of war (UXO).

 

Thank you for your incredible support through 2018 and into 2019. With your continued support we'll be able to bring safety and good health to the people we serve.

APOPO at the World Conference on Lung Health
APOPO at the World Conference on Lung Health
APOPO renews partnership with CMAC for 2019
APOPO renews partnership with CMAC for 2019
Delivering safety to families in Cambodia
Delivering safety to families in Cambodia
 

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Organization Information

APOPO vzw

Location: Morogoro, Tanzania - Tanzania, United Republic of
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HeroRATs
Project Leader:
Emma McEachan
Morogoro, Tanzania, United Republic of
$488,280 raised of $750,000 goal
 
9,553 donations
$261,720 to go
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