The computer scientist who created a tablet to detect heart disease
Cameroon is a country of more than 26 million inhabitants that has just 50 cardiologists. In one continent, Africa, where 22% of annual deaths are caused by heart problems, access to medical care is made even more difficult by the distances to hospitals. Most of these specialists in Cameroon are concentrated in its two large cities, Douala and Yaoundé, where patients have to travel to be examined. In many cases, they cannot make these trips or, when they do, it is too late.
Computer engineer Arthur Zang was aware of this problem when a cardiologist challenged him: to create a portable, reliable and easy-to-use device to perform heart examinations in rural areas of the country, without the need for the patient or a specialist. they had to travel hundreds of kilometers. “The first problem is that in Africa there was no specialist in this technology,” explains Zang. “I had to teach myself at home, using free educational programs from the Internet,” he continues. He and his team designed both the software and hardware for this revolutionary device.
The next hurdle he faced was financing. “I had to ask my mother to apply for a loan from the bank,” recalls the Cameroonian engineer. Once the barriers fell, Zang was able to create a prototype, which he called the Cardio Pad. The size of a conventional digital tablet, and connected to electrodes, it allows non-cardiology healthcare personnel to perform various tests, including electrocardiograms, and immediately send them over the Internet for a cardiologist to review. With an autonomy of seven hours, it also allows tests to be carried out in places that have an electrical network.
In 2016, the Cardio Pad was finally put on sale and currently, 200 units are in use in 200 hospitals in Cameroon and the Comoros Islands. This project earned Zang one of the laureates in the Rolex Initiative Awards 2014, a recognition with which the Swiss firm highlights and supports those initiatives that improve the lives of people around the world. “The problem of shortage of specialists is general, so I believe that this device has the potential to be used all over the world,” says Zang, who hopes that his Cardio Pad will be used, at the moment, in more than 100 hospitals in all of Cameroon.