Cameroon’s Arthur Zang is the 27-year-old inventor of the Cardio Pad, believed to be Africa’s first medical tablet. The device allows healthcare workers in rural areas to perform cardiac tests and send results to specialists via mobile phone connection. The Cardiopad is a tablet computer that takes a reading and sends it to a heart specialist. It allows health workers to give heart examinations and send the results to heart specialists far away.
The Cameroons has a population of about 20 million with about 50 cardiologists. Arthur Zang just won a £25,000 ($37,000) prize for his device that does heart examinations. This was awarded by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering at a ceremony in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam. The results from his Cardiopad are sent to a cardiologist via a mobile network and can be interpreted within 20 minutes. As of now, Cardiopads are distributed to hospitals and clinics in Cameroon free of charge, and patients pay $29 (£20) yearly subscriptions.
In an interview with How we made it in Africa, Zang explained the inspiration behind his invention. “In Cameroon, we have less than 50 cardiologists for more than 20m people, and all these cardiologists are located in the big hospitals which are in the city. So all the patients [outside Yaoundé and Douala] have to travel into the city each time they [need] an examination,” said Zang, explaining that this can be expensive and time-consuming for lower-income patients and make follow-ups difficult. So it is a very big challenge to solve this problem; to try to give all people the same attention”
How does this work?
A wireless set of four electrodes and a sensor are attached to the patient and transmits signals via Bluetooth to the Cardio Pad, taking a digitised electrocardiogram (ECG) reading of the patient’s heart function. The healthcare worker can then transmit this information to a national data centre, where cardiologists in urban centres can receive the ECG, make a diagnosis, and send it back to healthcare worker, along with prescription instructions. All of this can be done without the specialist ever actually seeing the patient directly.
At the moment, the electronic components have to be manufactured in China, and then assembled in Cameroon, but Zang hopes that local manufacturing will be possible in the future.
Zang completed his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Yaoundé in 2007, and two years later did a master’s at the National Advanced School of Engineering of Yaoundé. In 2009, Zang (who was looking to apply his knowledge in developing medical solutions) met a cardiologist who outlined the challenge of addressing the needs of rural patients requiring cardiac examinations.
How it came about?
Zang decided to invent a portable medical solution but needed to first gain the medical electronic know-how, which he did via the internet.
“In my Country, we do not have a lot of engineering schools where you can learn medical electronics or biomedical engineering. So when I wanted to design the Cardio Pad, I decided to teach myself medical electronics online. This is how I learnt electronics, learning for six months… After this, I was able to design an electronic device. It was a very big challenge to learn the technology, and the internet is a very good tool to learn.”
Zang’s advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs in Africa is to make use of available tools such as the internet and to not be conventional in their thinking and approach to solving African problems.
BaretaNews congratulates Zang and wishes him good luck in his future endeavours. This is good for the Cameroons emergence. We are proud of you
God is still saying something.