Omary was tested twice by his local clinic and they couldn’t detect his illness.
“Today I am at hospital to receive my treatment for tuberculosis (TB) that I recently contracted. I am feeling much better but at one point my family and I were really scared because I was extremely ill and the clinics and doctors didn’t know why.
I was sick for only a few weeks but the illness was very severe. My first two tests for TB were negative so I got worse. I work at a farm outside of the city and I seemed to go very quickly from a small cough to not being able to get out of bed. This is a big issue because we had crops to harvest and plant and I was unable to work. We had to pay for labourers and my youngest children had to leave school to work in the fields.
Luckily for me my clinic works with APOPO who retested my sputum sample using rats that can smell TB and then confirm this with laboratory tests. I was surprised to hear about the rats but in fact, they probably saved my life so I can still support my family. I know rats have excellent noses because no matter where I hide my grain, they always find it!
My neighbours also helped us. We are a small community so there are no secrets. We have to be open otherwise we are not a strong community. Tuberculosis and other diseases like HIV are openly discussed and when someone falls ill, we do not avoid them but help them. This happened to me. My neighbours supported us by providing food and supplies, I am very thankful to them.”