Another reason heart diseases are among the deadliest diseases is that more than half of the world’s medical facilities lack the necessary equipment to properly perform operations to address them.
The Solution To A Global Dilemma
However, with the development of technology comes the hope of better ways to treat heart conditions for generations to come. Meet Arthur Zang, a young inventor from one of the so-called ‘poorest’ nations in the world who, for the sake of his fellow Cameroonians, invented the ‘Cardiopad,’ a medical device which can be used to perform heart examinations [such as ECGs] on patients living in remote rural areas, and transmit the examination results worldwide specialists to properly interpret them.
Arthur’s invention not only showcases his brilliant imagination and creativity, but also reveals his genuine desire to help his fellow man. Having lived a rather poor life, Arthur understands the struggle for people living in rural areas of Cameroon to find proper medical attention, and that is why he made sure, when given a chance to improve his life, to spend it well by finding ways to give that same chance to others.
His invention represents a whole new era of heart treatments that are completely efficient and effective, giving everybody an equal chance of living a better life by having their heart condition treated.
Arthur Zang was born in Cameroon, a Central African country home to about twenty million people. Having suffered civil wars and a number of uprisings, Cameroon is considered a third-world country, with more than half of its population living in poverty and disease. To make matters worse, there is only a small number of trained medical professionals in the entire country, and most of them are concentrated in Yaounde (Cameroon’s capital city) and Douala (a port city and economic hub), leaving the rest of the country with almost no access to medical care.
This is the kind of life that Arthur grew up living - a life of hardship and poverty. However, unlike many of his neighbours who looked to their futures with little hope and encouragement, Arthur grew up with a dream – a dream that he could someday change the situation for his fellow Cameroonians in any way possible.
Thanks to the encouragement and inspiration he received from his parents, Arthur grew up to become a very creative and optimistic person. But it was not just inspiration from his parents that helped Arthur to excel at what he does today – it seems he was already born with the natural talent and skill for science and technology. Even when he was young, Arthur was already showing passion for these two subjects, and he strove to improve his knowledge and skills in both.
School Years: An Excellent Student
As a young student, Arthur excelled in his classes and far exceeded the expectations of his teachers. Because of this, he completed both his primary and secondary years with high marks, something that truly demonstrated his potential. With the help of his diligent, hard-working parents, Arthur was able to enrol at the Polytechnic University of Yaounde and study engineering. He successfully graduated and received a Bachelor’s degree.
First Encounter with cameroonian heart patients
After graduating from college, Arthur earned an internship at the General Hospital of Yaounde, where he worked under the guidance and supervision of Professor [and cardiologist] Samuel Kingue. It was during his time there that Arthur became aware of the terrible situation faced by heart patients in Cameroon – for over twenty million people living in the country, there were only around thirty heart surgeons available, and most of them were located in Cameroon’s two main cities – Douala and Yaounde.
This poses a very serious threat to the lives of heart patients in the country, especially in areas that are far from the country’s two economic hubs. Arthur also learned, to both his surprise and sadness, that there had been a high number of cases wherein patients passed away while waiting for help.
Finding His Lifelong Passion: Solving Cameroon’s heart issue
This revelation truly made an impact on his life, and it awoke something within him - a desire to change the situation. He had always wanted to do something for his fellow countrymen, ever since he was a kid, but he now found a way to truly manifest his desire.
Armed with the knowledge he gained from studying in the university and inspired by the request of Professor Kingue, Arthur began to research new ways to expand the reach of Cameroon’s few cardiologists so that can better assist heart patients who are separated from them by long distances.
Fortunately for Arthur, he had two reliable allies that helped him greatly in his desire to help heart patients in his country – the internet, and the digital tablet. With the support of a free distance-learning program offered the Indian government, Arthur delved into the world of electronics and studied ways to use a tablet to perform heart examinations and, with the use of the internet, broadcast the results to heart surgeons worldwide who could give their advice on what should be done.
The Fruits Of Arthur’s Labor: The Cardiopad
Not long after beginning, Arthur began to yield the fruits of his labour. In 2010, the Cardiopad was officially introduced. The device works in a very efficient and effective way – using electrodes attached to the device, the Cardiopad can carry out the functions of devices such as ECGs and transmit the results via the internet to other cardiologists located around the world.
In an interview, Arthur explained how the Cardiopad works:
“The tablet is used as a classical electrocardiograph device: electrodes are placed on the patient and connected to a module that, in turn, connects to the tablet. When a medical examination is performed on a patient in a remote village, for example, the results are transmitted from the nurse’s tablet to that of the doctor who then interprets them.”
Aside from the Cardiopad’s basic functions, Arthur also took time to modify it to work better than the classical cardiograph, which was not only larger and heavier, but also required more time to get the results to the proper heart surgeon. In an interview, Arthur stressed the Cardiopad’s advantages over the classical electrocardiograph:
“The Cardiopad has more functions. With the classical electrocardiograph, the results were 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 digitalised 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.”
Additionally, Arthur believed the Cardiopad would significantly reduce the price of heart examinations, thus allowing more opportunities for people to take them. Often, heart patients who cannot afford heart examinations will ignore their own situation, resulting in a greater risk of their condition worsening until it becomes difficult to treat. Using Arthur’s Cardiopad, however, patients are encouraged to have heart examinations because of the lower price, which is made possible by doctors purchasing their equipment (the Cardiopad) at a lower price.
Also in 2010, Arthur established “Himore Medical Equipments” to help promote his invention and seek funding for the production and further development of the Cardiopad.
Finding Funding And Promotion
Initially, Arthur had a difficult time raising funds. When he first approached the banks for help, he was rejected because he had no ‘stable income’ as an intern. In an interview, Arthur recalled his first funding exploits:
“To fund my research, I first turned to the banks but they asked me all sorts of guarantees while at the time I was merely a researcher at the Polytechnic. But here, the function of a researcher is not recognized. You're considered unemployed because you have no income.”
But Arthur did not allow this setback to stop him from promoting his invention. With perseverance and determination, Arthur continued to promote the Cardiopad and eventually contacted the government to show his invention’s potential to revolutionize heart treatments in the country. It did not take long for Arthur’s invention to get attention of the Cameroonian community; in 2012, the Cameroonian government allotted more than three hundred thousand Euros to the Cardiopad’s development. At that time, a total of thirty Cardiopads had been built and distributed, and Arthur looks forward to producing many more.
Achieving Success And Going International
In 2013, Arthur’s work went global when he was recognized by both TIME Magazine and Forbes Magazine in their “30 under 30: World Changers” and “30 under 30” lists, respectively. With this newfound popularity, Arthur has received overwhelming support from the international community, which has further encouraged him to continue his work with the Cardiopad.
More recently, Arthur has been working to encourage the next generation of Cameroonians to study science and technology. He also hopes that his work will inspire youth to do something great for their nation and encourage their government to support more researchers. As he says in an interview:
“Until we understand that being a researcher in Africa is a full time job, Africa does not develop. Until we understand that research is an area absolutely necessary and not optional, it will not take off. If researchers and politicians fail to agree on this subject, the growth will be fake because it will not be supported by something viable.”
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- Himore Medical Equipments
Awards and Achievements
- 2012: Finalist for the CPS Distinguished Award for the Sciences
- 2013: Included in “30 under 30: World Changers” list by TIME Magazine and Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list
- 2013: Received the African Mobile Award
World Bank (A young Cameroonian invented Cardiopad: first medical tablet "made in Africa")
Kumatoo (Arthur Zang)
LinkedIn (Marc Arthur Zang)
Forbes (Young African Invents Touch Screen Medical Tablet)
Radio Netherlands Worldwide (The Cardiopad: an African invention to save lives)