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Monday, 21 July 2014

Cameroon's Arthur Zang - The 26 Year Old Creator of Africa's First Medical Tablet

Meet Cameroon’s Arthur Zang, the 26-year-old creator 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. Zang completed his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Yaoundé in 2007, and 2 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. He then 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 bio-medical engineering. So when I wanted to design the Cardio Pad, I decided to teach myself medical electronics online. This is how I learnt electronics in 6 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 mother was able to get a $1,300 loan from a bank which financed the production of his first prototype. Armed with this, he then used social media like Facebook to find further funding. “With that prototype I made a video demonstration and the president of the country gave me $30,000 and this allowed me to manufacture the first 20 devices,” he said. “And after the manufacturing of the first 20 devices I made the second video demonstration… and I submitted it to the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, an international contest of innovation.”

This year, Zang won the award in the Applied Technology category, and was selected as one of Rolex’s 2014 five Young Laureates across the globe. In addition, Zang has been awarded 50,000 Swiss francs ($55,677), which will help him produce 100 medical tablets, 10 for each of Cameroon’s provinces. His company Himore Medical is looking to produce other kinds of medical devices, like ultrasound equipment that can assist medical examinations in poverty-stricken locations and hospitals.

Zang’s patented Cardio Pad comes with a complete diagnostic kit that allows cardiac examinations to take place in rural locations by health workers who are not necessarily cardiac specialists. A wireless set of 4 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.

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.

Source - howwemadeitinafrica

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