Cameroonian innovator Arthur Zang has won the second Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation for his heart-monitoring device, the Cardio-Pad. His invention could change the way that Africans access treatment for heart disease, a critical illness on the continent.
The Cardio-Pad is a small tablet device that allows any medical professional to perform heart diagnostics at any location. These diagnostics, sent to a cardiologist via a mobile phone network, are interpreted in under 20 minutes.
Nearly one in two Africans over the age of 25 has undiagnosed hypertension, and an estimated 20 million Africans suffer from a cardiovascular disease. A further 80 million Africans are estimated to have abnormally high blood pressure, which can lead to heart failure.
Cardio-Pad can help discover, monitor or rule out heart conditions as a source of pain without expensive trips to cities where cardiologists are based. As in Cameroon, cardiologists are often stationed in main cities, making heart diagnostics an expensive trip for millions of Africans living in rural areas.
Hundreds of Cardio-Pads have been built, and the device has already been sold in Cameroon, Gabon, India and Nepal. Arthur recently opened a medical assembly facility for the device in Yaoundé, creating local jobs. Cardio-Pad devices are distributed to hospitals and clinics free of charge, and subscriptions are charged to individual patients at a low yearly rate.
The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, encourages talented sub-Saharan African engineers, from all disciplines, to develop local solutions to challenges in their communities. The Prize selects a shortlist of innovators from across the continent and provides training and mentoring to help turn engineers with incredible ideas into successful entrepreneurs.
Launched in 2014, the Prize aims to stimulate, celebrate and reward engineers who have developed innovations that will benefit Africans.
12 shortlisted Africa Prize entrants, from nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa, received six months of business training and mentoring during which they learned to develop business plans and market their innovations. The group received coaching on communicating effectively, focusing on customers and approaching investors with confidence.
Zang, who wins UK £25,000 (21 million FCFA), competed with entrants from 11 African countries. At the awards ceremony in Dar es Salaam on 26 May 2016, the four finalists delivered presentations, before Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted for the most promising engineering innovation.
The award was presented to Arthur by the inaugural Africa Prize winner Dr Askwar Hilonga from Tanzania. Dr Hilonga won the Prize in 2015 for his Nanofilter, which purifies water and creates business opportunities in communities.
“Arthur’s technology is powerful and solves a real problem,” said Hilonga. “It touches the underserved communities, and is a tangible technology that Africa can be proud of – developed in Africa, for Africans.