A computer science engineer in Cameroon, Arthur Zang, has developed an innovative mHealth device, called the Cardio Pad, which can transmit cardiac signals over a mobile network.

According to Zang, the Cardio Pad is “the first fully touch screen medical tablet made in Cameroon and in Africa.”

Zang started the project in 2007 as a solution to the large number of patients in remote areas of Cameroon and the rest of Africa who are unable to travel to hospitals to receive proper medical assistance from heart specialists.

“In Cameroon we have less than 50 cardiologists for more than 20 million people, and all these cardiologists are located in the big hospitals which are in the city. So all the patients have to travel into the city each time they need an examination,” said Zang in an interview with How We Made it in Africa.

After learning about medical electronics through a free online course from the Indian Institute of Technology, Zang started developing a medical tablet that could be used by local health workers to perform cardiac tests, like ECGs, and then send off the data to remote heart specialists.

The tablet is essentially used as a classical electrocardiograph device, where electrodes are placed on the patient and connected to a module that connects to the tablet. When a medical examination is performed, the results are transmitted over a mobile network to a remote heart specialist.

The Cardio Pad’s battery can last for up to six hours, making it suitable for facilities that are off the grid.

The first Cardio Pad prototype was finished in 2010, after which Zang advertised his invention on social media with the hope of getting more funding to develop more devices. This led to the Cameroonian President, Paul Biya, donating $30,000, which allowed 20 more Cardio Pads to be produced.

Zang was also awarded $55,677 by Rolex in a tech-exhibition and competition, which allowed 100 more devices to be produced.

According to Africanews, to date Zang has produced 300 Cardio Pads and 47 premier devices have been sold in Gabon, India and Nepal.

The electronic components currently have to be manufactured in China and then assembled in Cameroon. But Zang hopes that local manufacturing will be possible in the future, which will allow the Cardio Pad and complete diagnostic kit to cost as little as $1,000 to manufacture.

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