The Sokoine University of Agriculture and APOPO tuberculosis (TB) detection program reached a significant milestone by making its TB diagnosis by trained African giant pouched rats accessible to more people in Tanzania.
This novel diagnostic technology helps detection of TB in patients missed by the commonly used microscopy as well as other conventional diagnostic methods.
The project started TB screening in 4 hospitals in 2007, the number of collaborating hospitals increased to 28 in 2016. A milestone was reached in September 2017 when this novel diagnostic technology was accepted to be implemented in other 29 TB clinics (17 additional clinics in Dar es Salaam and 12 in Morogoro and Dodoma region).
Rats have detected to-date, about 10,000 TB patients who were missed in hospitals.
Dodoma is a new site, thanks to the financial support from the German and Swiss Embassies in Tanzania, which supports expansion of the project to Dodoma and Morogoro periphery. With geographic coverage and increased number of collaborating centres from 4 to 57 TB clinics means that more people in Dar es Salaam, Coast region, Morogoro and Dodoma can now benefit from this technology.
SUA-APOPO is collaborating with a community based organization of former TB patients working as community healthcare workers helping to track the patients detected by rats missed by hospitals back to hospital to start anti-tuberculosis treatment.
Knowing that treatment of TB challenging and takes longer period, the project started a pilot study of monitoring treatment adherence using ecompliance technology that provides live streaming data on individuals taking and not taking medication accordingly.