In 2002, APOPO, a non-profit organisation, began researching the ability of African giant pouched rats to reliably detect tuberculosis in response to high prevalence rates and the challenges in detecting the disease in many sub-Saharan African countries. The organisation set up a rat breeding, training and testing facility on site and in partnership with the Sokoine University for Agriculture in Morogoro.
Since 2007, APOPO has been scaling up its efforts in Tanzania to support local clinics and help significantly increase tuberculosis (TB) detection rates. Research operations began with one laboratory facility in Morogoro, and in 2016, with support from HDIF, a new testing facility was opened in Dar es Salaam. The rats, also known for their ability to detect landmines and other explosives, are now appropriately referred to in Tanzania as ‘Hero Rats’ .