A 24 Year Old Cameroonian Engineer and His New Invention
Posted on May 29, 2012 by Lola Rotimi-Sosanya
Some of the greatest entrepreneurial and scientific innovations come about from a strong need to find a solution to an existing problem. This is exactly what inspired the 24-year old Cameroonian engineer, Arthur Zang to build the first fully touch-screen medical tablet in Africa.
In a country that has only 30 heart specialists for its more than 20 million people, your journey as a heart patient in Cameroon can be quite nerve racking. Since all of these doctors are based in the country’s political and economic capitals of Yaounde and Douala, many patients have to travel through the entire country for a medical consultation. Often times, appointments have to be made months in advance, which leads to the unfortunate death of many patients.
Aside from the shortage of doctors, Arthur Zang identified one of the main problems of this situation to be the lack of immediate medical accessibility to many patients. He envisioned the creation of an instrument that enables remote consultation, and for results to be digitally wired from the patient to the medical consultant.
This is where Zany conceptualized and built the Cardiopad, the first touch-screen digital tablet with its main functionality being able to perform an electrocardiogram (ECG). To perform an ECG test, the patient is attached to electrodes which are in turn, connected to the tablet. The device is equipped with the functionality of allowing it to wirelessly transmit the test results from the patient’s location to the specialist who can then interpret the results. For example, if the test is performed in a remote village, the test results can be transmitted from the nurse’s tablet to the doctor who could possibly be hundreds of miles away and provide a diagnosis and treatment immediately.
A software is built into the Cardiopad that allows the doctor to give remote assistance through computer assisted diagnosis. Zang explains that this is one of the major differences between a classical ECG and his invention. “The Cardiopad has more functions. With the classical electrocardiograph, the results are usually printed on paper and handed to the cardiologist for interpretation. It wasn’t possible to send or save the results electronically. With the Cardiopad, the results are digitalized and transmitted. There is no need to print them. The heart surgeon can interpret them, even remotely, from his tablet and then send the diagnosis and prescribed treatment.”
The Cardiopad, therefore; solve two main problems: One, the difficulty of travel by making medical assistance more accessible and two, through its functionality of electronically sending information, a diagnosis from the specialist can be given instantly.
Arthur Zang explains that the Cardiopad is mainly a scientific experiment. He has worked on it for three years already and had it tested and approved by the Cameroonian medical community. The Cardiopad today has an astonishing reliability of 97.5%. “It’s an invention that could save numerous human lives,” explains Zang.
Further Plans and Challenges
Zang hopes that his invention will cut down medical examination costs for patients. “We intend to sell the device for 1,500 euro, while the current price for an electrocardiograph device is 3,800 euro. If hospitals purchase the device at a low price, they will be able to lower the prices of medical examinations,” he explains. The prototype and sample of the Cardiopad is already available. Based on his progress, the first units of the device will be available in hospitals before July of this year.
Another challenge to address is the fact that many of Cameroon’s remote regions do not have electricity. Thus, Zang equipped the Cardiopad with a chargeable battery that can run the machine for around seven hours.
The biggest challenge however remains. He still needs to find the necessary funding to mass-produce his innovation invention. Arthur Zang, however; stays positive, both as an investor and entrepreneur, and is a visionary in his own right. “Besides the funding, I am also looking to start a company to help improve the medical care system in Cameroon,” he concludes.
Picture Reference: www.dailyafrik.com