Arthur Zang of Cameroon is the inventor of the Cardiopad, a device that remotely monitors and examines the heart conditions of patients from far distances for physicians. Zang claims that his device is Africa’s first medical tablet and his invention has helped him become an award-winning public figure as a result.
Zang, 28, began creating his innovative device after completing his computer science undergraduate degree and master’s degrees at University of Yaoundé in 2009. Shortly after graduate school, Zang met a cardiologist and was inspired to create a portable medical solution that would help rural heart patients who couldn’t travel to larger hospitals. Despite 20 million people in the African nation, there are only 50 cardiologists to service them.
Amazingly, in developing his device, Zang taught himself the electronics by way of the Internet. In an interview, he said he studied online videos for six months to form the basis of the Cardiopad.
Money was also a scarce for Zang, and banks frowned upon the idea of loaning money to a student without a surefire way to pay back what he owed. But Zang’s mother was able to secure a loan which went into forming an early version of the device. From there, Zang took to social media to raise funds to complete his mission.
After impressing Cameroonian President Paul Biya, he was awarded $30,000 to make 20 Cardiopads. During the development of the device, Zang lost an uncle to a stroke and he said that motivated him to refine the device. He then submitted the medical tablet to the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, an international contest that recognizes young inventors. Zang won the award for Applied Technology in 2014 and has been on the move ever since.
This year, Zang won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering. He received his prize in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam. Right now, the Cardiopad is used for free in hospitals in Cameroon and is sold globally to a limited market. There are plans to expand the use of the device across the continent as Zang hopes to bring his medical innovation to undeveloped nations in Africa and across the world.
PHOTO: Rolex Awards/Ambroise Tezenas