Cameroonian inventor wins prize for handheld tablet bringing medicine to rural areas

Dr. Ndjomo Mba, director of the hospital of Mbankomo and Arthur Zang testing the Cardiopad with patient Jean Abada.

Story highlights

  • Cameroonian Arthur Zang has won £25,000 ($37,000) for inventing a heart-monitoring tablet.
  • The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation celebrates scalable solutions to critical everyday problems.
  • Cardio Pad could revolutionize medicine in remote areas.

Yaounde (CNN)He is just 28 years old, but Cameroonian Arthur Zang has won a £25,000 ($37,000) prize for inventing a touchscreen heart-monitoring tablet that could revolutionize medicine in remote areas.

Cardio Pad enables heart patients in remote areas to access healthcare without journeying to the cities where most heart specialists work.
    Zang -- who won gold at the Africa Prize for the invention -- explains that the tablet comes with "four electrodes, which are attached to the patient's chest to determine whether their heart is functioning normally".
    The data is then wirelessly transmitted to the tablet and sent, via a mobile phone, to a cardiologist who can interpret the data in under 20 minutes.
    Any prescriptions needed are then sent to the local clinic.

    Matters of the heart

    Cameroon is home to over 22 million people, but fewer than 50 cardiologists.
    Almost all the heart specialists reside in the big cities of Yaounde and Douala.
    At the former hospital of Mbankomo, now a medical station care station where specialized personnel but no doctors are working, the Cardio Pad is helping to save lives.
    "The Cardio Pad solves this problem by connecting rural patients suffering from heart diseases without the the means, time, contacts and even the strength to travel to the city with the few, city-based cardiologists we have," says Cameroon's public health minister, André Mama Fouda.
    The device could be a solution to heart patients across Sub-Saharan Africa -- where nearly one in two people over the age of 25 has hypertension, and an estimated 20 million Africans suffer from a cardiovascular disease. A further 80 million Africans are estimated to have abnormally high blood pressure, which can lead to heart failure.
    Zang says he has sold hundreds of Cardio Pads in Cameroon, Gabon, India and Nepal.

    Inspiration

    Zang's invention is personal. He lost his uncle to a cardiovascular disease, and grew up in a remote village where he witnessed the daily anguish of people lacking healthcare.
    Arthur Zang with his invention.
    "It is that continuous search for a solution that let me to develop the Cardio Pad as a school project, and ultimately I grew it to provide solutions to heart patients based in remote areas," Zang tells CNN.
    Recognition from the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation couldn't have come at a better time -- Zang has another business idea in the works: a "smart card" company.
    "It's like the ATM card. It can be used to open doors automatically and we think government offices, schools and banks will find the smart card a great opportunity to secure the doors to their premises," he says.