Fine Tuning Entrepreneurship Over Seas

“Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music.”  –Gerald Ford

Across the world, children are reaping the benefits of the enriched education that music can provide. A musical education has been linked to breakthroughs in language development, higher IQs, growth in neural activities and in creative development. Children who grow up in introspective, musical environments benefit from a greater sense of self. Children learn to honor the process of learning and to bring an artful consciousness in all that they do, see and become.

For entrepreneur, Candace Chen, gaining a musical education was instrumental (no pun intended) to her success. Candace and her family left Taiwan when she was only three years old. Raised on a close to minimum wage salary, Candace’s single mother pushed her to work hard in school and supported her in her pursuit of learning how to play musical instruments. A classically trained musician, Chen played as a Pianist for 13 years, a violinist for 10 years, later becoming a self-taught guitar and ukulele player as well. She later went on to teach violin and piano to help offset the cost of college. This upbringing ultimately led to Chen’s MIT acceptance, where she obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering, a milestone she considers to be her greatest achievement. Candace’s musical upbringing also laid the foundation for becoming a well rounded individual, capable of taking on a variety of diverse tasks throughout her career. As a solo (technical) founder, Candace now wears many hats in her company, handling design, copywriting, video editing, Facebook advertising and patent writing. She is also able to work well with limited resources available, using her bedroom 3D printer to prototype and test her designs.

In her successful, one-woman powered venture, Chen honors everyone around the world who has benefited from a musical education, as well as those who continue to hold a soft spot for music in their heart. Creating a travel-friendly ukulele instrument, Chen makes it easy for music lovers and adventurous travelers to bring the joys of music wherever they go. Her product, the Ava ukulele boasts an impressive model of unique features, in a market that has seen very little change. The instrument is portable and may be easily stowed away. Ava retains a bold sound, to be shared proudly with others. It may also be practiced quietly, in Silent Mode. Simple plug in your earphones and your solo jam session will remain barely audible to those around you.

The Ava ukulele came into being when Chen was setting off for a vacation in Costa Rica. Excited for a relaxing vacation, playing ukulele on the beach, she was devastated to find that her beloved instrument had been destroyed in her travels. For Candace Chen, whose life had largely revolved around music, this instrument was more than an object,  it was a friend. Empathizing with other musicians who have experienced the same heartbreak, Candace decided to create a compact ukulele that would not only withstand travel, but become an agent for social interactions and joy shared among others. “I want Ava to inspire people to get out there, travel, and share music with others,” says Chen.

For any entrepreneurial spirit out there hoping to follow your lives’ compass to the heart of inspiration, listening to Candace Chen’s story can help you get there.  Based on her personal experience, Candace offers the following advice to entrepreneurs in diverse industries:

Take advantage of the growing freelance economy (like Upwork and Fiverr)! I’ve found freelancers for electrical engineering, PR, marketing, user studies, creative copy, graphic design, patents, and video production on a per-project basis which keeps on-going expenses (like salary) low. This is crucial in the early stages when you’re bootstrapping or trying to manage your burn rate before that next investment round. 

Create prototypes to help answer questions and stress-test assumptions, not for sake of creating a prototype. A prototype at each stage (MVP, proof-of-concept, critical module, beta) are all different types of prototypes that help answer a different question. 

If you have an app idea, your first step is not to hire a developer. Rather, create an MVP mockup (there are drag-and-drop programs that let you do this with no coding experience), and test with your target users to figure out if this is something they’d want. Saves a ton of time and money.

You should be de-risking and refining at each step along the way (product-market fit, features, high-risk engineering modules), not at the very end where you present a final polished product and find out nobody wants it!

 

Top 3 Reasons to Hire Angular Developers

Angular is one of the most popular frontend JavaScript development frameworks and with good reason. When you make the decision to hire Angular developers, you are selecting one of the best solutions for how to make a website or app. You will find that the technology itself is well-suited to the development of large-scale apps, while developers that use it are some of the most skilled.

As a business owner, you will want to hire these developers mainly due to their ability to create apps that combine good website design with advanced functionality and speed.  

Reason 1: Angular JS Developers Create Highly Interactive Applications  

Angular has already been used successfully at some of the most technically-accomplished businesses in the world. It boasts a great pedigree and track record.

Google created the framework in 2010, then released a major revision in 2016. Since then, the following companies have used Angular in their projects, in the process availing the services of many teams of expert Angular programmers:

  • PayPal
  • NetFlix
  • AT&T
  • Cisco
  • JPMorgan Chase and Co.
  • Apple
  • HP
  • VMWare
  • Solar City
  • IBM

The ability of AngularJS developers at these companies to create highly interactive applications is largely due to the capabilities of the framework itself.

Reason 2: Faster Apps with Front-End Technologies like the Shadow DOM

Due to the many optimizations in the framework, AngularJS developers can create some of the fastest JavaScript applications possible. In numerous head to head performance tests, Angular has proven to be comparable to React and Vue.js. This means it is among the very best in these categories, ahead of other frameworks like EmberJS, MarionetteJS, and jQuery.  

Angular 2 and 4 make use of the shadow DOM which results in very fast applications, faster than was possible in Version 1 of AngularJS. Working with developers who use the framework, therefore, results in snappy applications that work well on both mobile and desktop computing devices.

Reason 3: Angular Developers Use Typescript for Type-Safe Web Development

Angular developers can easily create apps for a small business or mid-sized business, but their stack is particularly suitable for the unique needs of large enterprise companies. This is the reason why so many Fortune 500 companies and other enterprises have quickly adopted the technology.

Users of the framework are masters at the large-scale development you will need if you have high traffic requirements for your apps. The process of large-scale development is improved, in a lot of cases, by the usage of Typescript, a type-safe programming language from Microsoft that enables your development team to catch errors at compile time. Angular is a showcase for how to improve your business or grow a business through defect-free JavaScript apps.

An Even Better Way to Hire Angular Tech Talent

To help address the challenges of costly Angular developer salary for highly skilled teams, many organizations, large and small, have turned to remote outstaffing services. With outstaffing, you can create remote teams composed of Angular experts just like you would if recruiting locally. Often, outstaffing agencies in tech centers like Kiev and Warsaw can greatly improve your results with outstaffing.

Build a Website with Angular Devs

There are substantial advantages that come with hiring Angular programmers for your next project. Most importantly, your application development will be in the hands of JavaScript app experts with a winning frontend technology.

The performance of Angular teams is often better than with competing stacks. You will get faster apps that scale and can handle very high levels of traffic. The improvements that Google continues to make with its open-source framework will benefit your business for years to come.

Philip Kapneck Cuts Another Ribbon

Philip Kapneck, the Maryland Trade Ambassador, reintroduced ribbon cutting ceremonies to Maryland businesses in 1976. This was documented in the NewsBlaze story, Ambassador Kapneck’s Ribbon Cutting Creates Celebration.

So many ribbons were cut, celebrating the opening of new businesses in Maryland, that “Philip Kapneck” and “Ribbon Cutting” are still often mentioned in the same breath.

Maryland companies large and small love the symbolism of the special event to celebrate their effort. Ribbon cutting ceremonies were Ambassador Philip Kapneck’s trademark in the Maryland business world.

Ribbon cuttings introduce companies and people to a new area. This is good for the new business and existing business are introduced to the new owners who can learn about introducing their customers to a non-competitive business.

Even in difficult times, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, and Trade Ambassador Philip Kapneck, brought great results. In 2009-2010, 14 foreign-owned companies with up to 250 new jobs started up through Maryland’s efforts. An additional 225 new jobs came from US companies that moved, expanded, or set up in the State.

One of those ribbon cuttings was held at the University of Maryland, in College Park, MD. The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held at the Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium, to celebrate the new luxury in-seat delivery service at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. The venture was set up to create hundreds of local jobs.

At that Ribbon Cutting ceremony, Michael T. Jobe, President & CEO of First Down Mobile, LLC celebrated with Philip Kapneck, Maryland Trade Ambassador; Robert Walker, Assistant Secretary of Business and Economic Development for the State of Maryland; Stanley Goldstein and former President of the University of Maryland Terrapin Club.

Now, in places all over the USA, Chambers of Commerce use ribbon cuttings for many purposes, including to give new businesses a kickstart. The Chambers leverage off the ideas Philip Kapneck pioneered more than 40 years ago.

In the past few months, among many others, there were ribbon-cutting ceremonies for Weis Markets supermarket in Baltimore’s Fullerton Plaza shopping center, AHF Wellness Center in Temple Hills, The Fannie Angelos Cell Therapy Lab at UMD, Anne Arundel Dermatology in Westminster, and the St. Mary’s County Airport technology incubator.

22 Uncomfortable Signs You’re Challenging Yourself On A Daily Basis

  1. You pretty much have no idea what you’re doing, every single day. Because on a near-daily basis, you are doing something new or trying something outside of your wheelhouse.   
  2. You’re constantly surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you, more talented than you, more developed in their skill than you, etc. You’re not satisfied unless you’re feeling constantly inspired to be better by those around you.
  3. You have a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset. Get yourself right by reading 300+ Top Inspirational Quotes & Quote Pictures | Quote Catalog
  4. You have learned that feeling unsure of yourself means you are doing something to get better or improve yourself, so rather than running away from this kind of feeling, you run towards it.
  5. You are out of your comfort zone ten times as often as you are in it.
  6. You consistently ask mentors and superiors for feedback, even if (and especially when) you know it will come with intimidating or uncomfortable criticism.
  7. You make decisions based on what will be most beneficial for you in the long-term, as opposed to what feels best or easiest right now.
  8. You are accustomed to doing things you don’t feel fully prepared for, and you have gotten comfortable with simply trusting that you’ll figure it out along the way.
  9. You pay very close attention to when you are actively forcing yourself to engage in much-needed relaxation, and when you are simply procrastinating.
  10. You know how to fail, and you fail often.
  11. And instead of this failure destroying you, it just fuels you to keep going. It may slow you down for a while, or bum you out, or even break your heart. But failure never stops you from trying again.
  12. No matter how hard it hurts or how much pain it causes, you still manage to look at failure as a learning opportunity – as a way for you to further get to know yourself, understand yourself, and understand how this will make you better and stronger next time.
  13. You have specific goals for yourself every single day, no matter how small or trivial they may feel in the moment.
  14. You find familiarity easy and comforting, but never invigorating.
  15. You are not afraid of admitting when you don’t know something. In fact, you are quite comfortable with it, because you know it brings you one step closer to learning something new or becoming just a little bit better.
  16. You do your best to be very conscious of and wary of criticizing or gossiping about others – because you know it usually means you’re projecting something you’re insecure about within yourself.
  17. You are way more afraid of plateauing than you are of failing.
  18. In your mind, ‘good enough’ is no different than ‘not good enough.’ You are never satisfied with ‘good enough.’
  19. You try every single day to find happiness in little present moments, because you’ve learned that there’s never going to be a moment when you simply reach your destination and no longer need to grow.
  20. You are very much okay with talking about those things you need to improve on. And being okay with it doesn’t mean you like talking about your shortcomings, it just means you know how to address them in a healthy and productive way.
  21. You ask yourself the hard questions – does this matter in the long run? am I just trying to take the easy way out? will this be a temporary distraction or will this actually make me better? does this challenge me? does being challenged by this bring me joy?
  22. You have found that you’ve grown to love the process just as much as (or even more than) the outcome.

50 Tiny Powerful Things Successful People Tell Themselves Every Day

  1. I am enough.
  2. I am not wrong or weak for feeling things deeply.
  3. I deserve to be happy.
  4. But that doesn’t mean I automatically deserve to have whatever I want, whenever I want.
  5. Tomorrow is always a new day.
  6. Everyone I know is a fully, three-dimensional person with feelings and insecurities and a life story that I haven’t heard – even if I don’t like them.
  7. I can do this.
  8. Bravery doesn’t usually come from feeling brave – it comes from doing something despite how afraid I feel.
  9. I cannot settle for mediocrity.
  10. The people I look up to didn’t get there by sitting on their asses.
  11. Sometimes a really tiny and simple thing can completely turn someone’s day around.
  12. Being in love will not always be easy and effortless.
  13. I am me, and that can be a lot of different things, and that’s wonderful.
  14. Being able to admit when I’m wrong is way more important than being right.
  15. Sometimes I will try stuff that I won’t be automatically good at. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try to get better.
  16. It is okay, and even necessary, to walk away from people who hurt me.
  17. The online version of my life is not what gives me meaning.
  18. Even my ideal dream job is still going to be incredibly difficult, because anything worthwhile takes blood and sweat and tears.
  19. When I am going through heartbreak, it means I am experiencing one of the most universal feelings on the planet. I am not alone.
  20. Sometimes maintaining friendships in adulthood is hard and that’s okay, as long as I keep trying with the people who matter to me.
  21. The people who really love me are the ones who are telling me what I need to hear, even if I don’t want to hear it.
  22. It’s normal that sometimes I truly crave credit or validation or praise. It’s part of being human.
  23. I can be a different version of myself in front of different people, and it doesn’t make me any less authentic.
  24. This doesn’t have to be where I end up if I don’t want it to be that way.
  25. Sometimes, I’m just going to have a really rough day, or week, or year. But I will survive it. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.
  26. My heart is fragile but my strength is unwavering.
  27. I’m allowed to leave a job I hate to find something better.
  28. No matter how careful I am, I’m going to make mistakes. What’s important is how I handle the aftermath.
  29. The times when I really don’t want to get out of bed are usually the moments when it is most crucial that I do so.
  30. Anxiety and depression and other mental health related struggles don’t make me weak. I just need to remember to be strong enough to ask for help.
  31. It’s important to tell the truth, especially to myself.
  32. Everybody is scared. I’m not the only one.
  33. Sometimes feeling lost is a good thing.
  34. Usually when I’m heavily judging someone, what I’m really doing is projecting something that I dislike within myself.
  35. Money can make things easier and less stressful, but it won’t make me happier or more fulfilled.
  36. I’m allowed to be proud of myself.
  37. I should never take advantage of the fact that my loved ones are only a phone call away.
  38. The only time procrastination feels good is in the moment.
  39. I can’t change the fact that my body will age, but I can control how I handle it.
  40. No matter how happy or put-together they seem, everyone is struggling with something, just like me.
  41. Regret is much scarier than failure.
  42. When I make others look good, I look good too. And it’s a much more joyful way to live.
  43. Admitting that I care about something is so much more fun than trying to play it cool.
  44. It’s important to be humble, but it’s also important to stand up for myself when I’m being treated unfairly.
  45. Just because someone is cold to me doesn’t mean I need to be cold back.
  46. There is no better quality than making others feel like, and understand that, they matter.
  47. Laughter should always be a high priority.
  48. Being warm to others can take me so incredibly far.
  49. I am here to do something.
  50. Looking for ways to feel grateful for things, instead of frustrated over them, can drastically change the way I look at the world and the way I feel about my life.

Article inspired by https://quotecatalog.com/quotes/inspirational

What Influences the Economy

If you’ve ever turned on a cable news channel, you’ve heard anchors talk about how the stock market up means that the economy is good, or how a lot of people filing for unemployment means the economy is bad. The truth is, the American economy is a complicated beast that shouldn’t be reduced to just a single number. A lot of factors are at play. Yes, the stock market matters, as do job reports. But that’s not all that matters.

Growth rates matter

If you read that the American economy experienced modest growth at the beginning of 2018, that’s because even though things like a low unemployment rate are helping, consumer spending could be better. If people aren’t increasing their spending, that means there’s some financial uncertainty at play. People tend to spend more when they’re feeling confident about their financial status, and they tend to scrimp and save when that status seems threatened. Consumer spending is still increasing, but barely.

What about the stock market, though? If it doesn’t matter, why are news outlets so eager to report every increase or decrease? Well, they probably do that because it’s their job to report the news, and the stock market is a piece of the news puzzle. Most normal people, however, only need to pay attention to the stock market in certain circumstances. In general, day-to-day fluctuations aren’t nearly as important as long-term trends. Only about half of all Americans own any stock at all, which means the number of people directly affected isn’t as big as it may seem. If you’re interested in investing in the stock market, it’s probably because you’re at a point where it makes financial sense to do so. People who don’t have a lot of disposable income generally aren’t rushing to put what little they have into stocks, after all. Before you invest, educate yourself. Researching what stocks to buy is always going to be more helpful than just closing your eyes and pointing to a stock. Once you invest, you’ll no doubt be more interested in what’s happening on Wall Street, because you’ll have a personal stake in it.

The tax cut question

Unless you were in a cave with no Internet access at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, you no doubt heard something about the tax cut bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. Do tax cuts really boost the economy, though? That depends on who you ask.

A few years ago, the Congressional Research Service published a report that found no connection between top tax rates and economic growth. In other words, the service found no evidence that cutting taxes for the rich helps the economy in general. That wasn’t the end of the story, though, because Republicans in Congress said the report contained errors. Politico studied the issue and declared there to be no “predictable effect” on economic growth. In early 2018, Reuters took a poll of economists, the majority of whom said the tax bill would provide a short-term boost for the economy. One economist interviewed compared it to a “sugar rush.” We can make educated guesses, but, like many things, we’re ultimately going to have to wait and see. If it spurs long-term growth, then it will be hailed as a genius move. If it leads to negative growth, then Republican members of Congress could be at risk of losing their jobs, as could the president.

The Smart Investor

The stock market can seem like an amorphous cloud. With so many options, how will you know where to put your money? Maybe you’re thinking it might be easier to simply tuck that money away for a rainy day. But don’t worry, and don’t hide your money! The stock market can yield great dividends for risky and cautious investors alike. If you’re wondering where to begin, here are a few tips to get you started as an investor.

Find What You Stand For

An investment is essentially your financial support of an individual, company, or cause. Some investments that yield great dividends might not be the best for the world. That may or may not matter to you as an investor, but it is nevertheless important to consider before you can take the next steps. Depending on how risky you are willing to get, startups can be a good investment to reflect your beliefs–if you have done your homework. Knowing why a company will grow is imperative to making a smart investment. If your beliefs align with the company’s, you can feel even better about giving them your money.

Do Your Research

Whether you’re investing a little or a lot, it’s important to do your research. There are many ways online to learn about the investments that interest you. For example, with a risky investment like medical marijuana, you could spend some time reading up on marijuana stocks to track how the stock is doing. Sites like this will give you the scoop on your investment as it stands in politics, and more. For a less straightforward stock like Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, you may want to read blockchain news articles to become informed on the basics of the market. It’s also a great place to go if you have no idea what the cryptocurrency hype is about but want to get in on the investment. An informed investment decision can make all the difference between huge dividends and a huge bust.

Ask for Help

There is nothing wrong with seeking the advice of a financial planner. These professionals are trained to have a keen eye on the economy, and can help you plan your financial future based on your risk-level preferences. In a way, hiring a CFP is like an investment in itself. Their advice will lead you to the best fit for you. This will make your life as an investor less stressful, and hopefully more prosperous–with more dollars going into your bank than going out.

Take the Leap

Plenty of people wait around for the economy to “get better” in order to invest.The fact is we live in a society where the economy will always be in flux. No matter how it looks today, it will look much different in ten and even twenty years. As an investor, you can feel confident walking in with a long-term mindset. You know your dividends will be on their way, as investing is a game of longevity. There is no such thing as quick money, but with these tools you could make big money in the long run.

 

6 Steps for Getting Ready for College

College! Your newest adventure is just around the corner. While college can be one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, there are some steps you can take to make this transition easier. Without further ado, here are six steps for getting ready for college.

Pick a Career

You’re probably sick of this one. With all the pressure to decide on a career path before college, sometimes you don’t even want to think about your options. Picking a career doesn’t have to be stressful, however; you can start with something basic: what makes you feel proud or happy? (Numbers? Writing? Working with people?) What is a day-to-day task you know you’re good at? Start with the smaller picture (the daily grind) and work your way outwards to a career idea.

Pick a College

Next up on the high-stress profile, picking a college can make you feel like you’re going crazy. You have to balance what you can afford, where you can get in, and what colleges offer good programs in your chosen career. Once you know your career, your first step should be applications, though–because you could end up with a great scholarship. You can make financial decisions later. Remember, if money is an object, there are great innovative academic programs that can help you sort out this decision.

Pick a Transportation Method

How are you going to get to school? Parents driving you? A bus? Do you want to invest in your own car? While a personal car might be more than most freshman have, a college commute or a university where you want some off-campus freedom could mean you want to purchase a car. A car might mean too much stress and hassle, or it could be the kind of freedom and friend-attractor you’re looking for.

Pick a Roommate
We know… your college might not let you pick. At least not freshman year. While you could be heading blindly into a roommate situation, you can still take some action towards getting a compatible dorm room companion. Think carefully when you answer your match-up questionnaire, and even try to friend your new roommate on social media before you start rooming.

Have a Goodbye Party

You’re not the only one heading off to college. If all your friends were in your grade, then each one of you is headed somewhere new for school. To celebrate the friendships you had in high school, and to make sure you don’t miss any important goodbyes, have a party with all your besties before you go.

Spend More Time with Family

In the last few weeks before you go, you’ll probably be distracted by packing and focusing on upcoming college life. Once you hit college, however, you’ll almost certainly face a wave of homesickness. To better adjust once you’re gone, and to make the most of your time at home, hang out with your entire family as much as you can before you head out.

Drought Continues to Vex African Nations

Shauri Moyo water project in Majengo ward, Muheza district, Tanga region got a shot in the arm last week following the arrival of 31-million/- equipment to start implementation of the project.

Presenting the equipment, Muheza Member of Parliament Adadi Rajabu, reminded a well-attend public rally in Majengo ward that the equipment was ordered in order to solve chronic water problem in that particular ward, adding that tackling seriously the water problem in Muheza District was one of Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s election campaign pledges.

“At personal level,” he said, “I vowed to struggle to end the incessant water problem in this district. I renew my pledge.  I will not rest until the vast majority of residents of this district get a permanent supply of potable water.  This is just a beginning.”

Ambassador Rajabu thanked unnamed stakeholders he teamed up with to secure the equipment to implement the Shauri Moyo scheme projected to benefit 6,000 residents.  He said he will look for more donors to implement other water projects.

He asked Muheza residents to play their part in the struggle to end the water problem because, he said, water problem in the district was age-old, explaining that no individual could solely end the problem without the participation of the people.

“If we shall rise together, we shall solve many of the problems in our society.  I beseech you to play your part as we implement our development plans.”

The MP also presented Pande Darajani, Kilulu, Magila na Majengo villagers with 500 corrugated iron sheets whose roofs were damaged during a storm in January this year.

Majengo Councilor Shaban Kibwana thanked the MP for keeping his word, saying residents will support him in implementing development projects.

Rodents to Help Doctors Fight Tuberculosis

DAR ES SALAAM:- Scientists in East Africa plan to exploit trained rats’ highly developed sense of smell to carry out mass screening for tuberculosis among inmates of crowded prisons in Tanzania and Mozambique.

African Giant Pouched Rats trained by the Belgian non governmental organisation APOPO are widely known for their work sniffing out landmines, and are now developing a reputation in East Africa for their skill and speed at detecting TB too.

Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death, after HIV, from an infectious disease. Around the world, there are about 9 million new cases a year and around 2 million deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

In Tanzania, people in communities where TB is most common, including prisons, often fail to show up for screening because of lack of money or awareness, creating a huge burden for health authorities trying to tackle the disease, health officials said.

Because existing systems lack the accuracy, speed and cost-efficiency required to scale up screening of the highly contagious disease, many TB cases go undiagnosed, they said.

APOPO, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID,) plans to recruit and train more rats to carry out prison screening that it expects to be faster and more reliable than existing methods.

“We believe our unique TB Detection Rat technology will prove itself as an effective mass-screening tool,” said APOPO’s U.S. director, Charlie Richter.

“We then aim to expand the programme to all prisons, shantytowns, factories and other settings in Tanzania, Mozambique and other high TB-burden countries, as well as in high-risk groups such as those individuals living with HIV/AIDS. This will improve and save lives all over the globe at a low cost,” Richter said.

Though data from African jails is hard to come by, studies from Tanzania, Malawi and Ivory Coast show that TB rates are 10 times higher in prisons than in the general population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TRAINING STARTS AT FOUR WEEKS OLD

APOPO says the rats undergo a rigorous training process that begins when they are four weeks old. As soon as the rats open their eyes, they are introduced to various stimuli and learn how to socialize and interact with people.

The rats learn to recognise the presence of TB in samples of sputum, mucus that is coughed up from the patient’s lower airways, and rewarded when they succeed.

The testing process starts when a rat is presented with a row of 10 sputum samples, and when it detects TB the rat hovers over the sample for 3 seconds, Richter said.

The rats’ accuracy at detecting TB is almost 100 percent, but they cannot distinguish between normal and drug-resistant strains, APOPO scientists say.

The APOPO system is fast, cheap and has the potential to greatly lower screening costs in poor countries, Richter said.

While a laboratory technician may take four days to detect tuberculosis, a trained rat can screen 100 samples in 20 minutes, and a rat screening can cost as little as 20 US cents when APOPO operations are running near capacity, he said.

APOPO’s current programmes have screened more than 340,000 TB samples, halting over 36,000 further infections, and increased detection rates by over 40 percent in several partnered clinics, officials said.

Khadija Abraham, an expert at Tanzania’s National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Programme, said trained rats had a great ability to detect a wide range of strong-smelling molecules that could help tracking down undiagnosed TB cases, especially in rural areas.

“Training an animal with a strong and reliable sense of smell to help detect disease in a vast country like Tanzania could potentially offer a valuable solution to help detecting the disease,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Training pouched rats requires little human skill since they only have to be exposed to the smell they need to recognize, Abraham said.

“Experiments show that these rats can detect a sample with TB parasites in a second and evidence has shown that they are able to sniff out even those with very minimal parasites,”she said.

TB cases are normally detected by sputum smear microscopy, a slow and costly process that has not changed for years and is not very accurate. The WHO insists that one lab technician should not test more than 20 patients a day, and says the chances of misdiagnosis are high if this exceeded.