TB Rat

Hoffnung für die globale Gesundheit im Jahr 2017

HONG KONG – Rückblickend hat es 2016 allem Anschein nach nicht viel zu feiern gegeben. Allein im Bereich globale Gesundheit erschien das Jahr als eine Zeit fortgesetzter Katastrophen. Neben den Meldungen über zerbombte Krankenhäuser in Konfliktzonen entwickelte sich das Zika-Virus zu einer wachsenden Bedrohung. Darüber hinaus hatten wir es mit der Ausbreitung Antibiotika-resistenter Mikroben, oder „Superbakterien” ebenso zu tun wie mit dem Wiederaufflammen von Gelbfieber und dem erneuten Auftreten von Polio in Nigeria, das man zuvor schon für poliofrei erklärt hatte. Auch die Hoffnungen auf einen Impfstoff gegen das Respiratorische Synzytial-Virus haben sich zerschlagen. Und in Europa stieg die Zahl der Todesfälle im Zusammenhang mit Alkohol an.

Doch unter all den negativen Geschichten finden sich 2016 im Bereich globale Gesundheit auch einige hoffnungsvolle Entwicklungen.

Die erste ereignete sich in Tansania und Mosambik, wo man Afrikanische Riesenhamsterratten, die zuvor von der belgischen NGO APOPO zum Aufspüren von Landminen trainiert worden waren, mittlerweile im Kampf gegen die Tuberkulose (TBC) einsetzt. Die Ratten werden dafür einem intensiven Trainingsprogramm unterzogen. Man setzt sie verschiedenen Reizen aus, trainiert sie in der Interaktion mit Menschen und bringt ihnen bei, Tuberkulose in Sputumproben (Schleim, der aus den unteren Atemwegen ausgehustet wird) zu erschnüffeln. Die Ratten können Tuberkulose mit einer Genauigkeit von beinahe 100 Prozent erkennen, allerdings nicht zwischen normalen und arzneimittelresistenten Keimen unterscheiden.

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