Written by....... Richard Chowning
In the central African country Cameroon, there are less than forty cardiologists for the country's twenty million inhabitants. Almost all of these vital medical personnel practice in the large cities of Douala or Yaoundé, making it very difficult for the majority of the country's rural population to receive proper diagnosis and treatment of suspected heart problems. That dangerous reality is on the brink of changing due to creation of Cardiopad, the innovation of a twenty-four year old, Cameroonian engineer, Marc Arthur Zang Adzaba.
CardioPad,is a medical, computer tablet that enables heart examinations like electrocardiograms (ECG) to be conducted at remote, rural locations. CardioPad utilizes electrodes, fitted with bluetooth, that are placed on the patient's chest sending a signal to a touch screen tablet and wirelessly transfer the readings to heart specialist anywhere in the country to interpret and render a diagnosis.
According to the World Health Organization heart problems are responsible for 22 percent of the deaths in Central Africa. Many of the fatalities are due to the inaccessibility of Cardiologists to the rural masses. CardioPad alleviates the need for rural patients to make long and expensive trips to urban centers to receive heart examinations and treatment prescriptions.
With the arrival of Cardiopad a patient manifesting symptoms of a heart problem can be given an ECG exam by a nurse who then transmits the results over one of the national cellular networks (MTN or Orange) to a cardiologist. The transmitted results contain data, graphs, and some preliminary diagnoses. Once the cardiologists analyze the readings, they can transmit a report and recommendation for a course of treatment to the nurse.
CardioPad's founder, Adzaba, is the founder and CEO of Himore Medical company which produces medical equipment and software. The company has a staff of seven researchers and engineers and has been working with an annual budget of $20,000. Adzaba recently applied for and received supplemental funding of 20-million-FCFA from the Cameroon government and local donors. The Prime Minister and Minister of Health endorsed CardioPad after several tests by the Cameroonian scientific community validated the accuracy and efficiency of CardioPad.
The cutting edge device not only is more accessible to the majority of Cameroonians, it also greatly reduces the cost of cardiac treatment. The cost Standard ECG machines and in-resident cardiologists make it impossible for outlying hospitals in Africa to provide quality cardiac care. According to Adzaba, “The CardioPad will cut down the cost of examination. We intend to sell the device for 1500 euros, while the current price for an electrocardiograph device is 3800 euros. If hospitals purchase the device at a low price, they will be able to lower the prices of medical examinations.” The readings and their transmission are in digital form, so there is no need to print them anything, even further lower the cost of treatment.
The the ability of CardioPad's battery to power the device for more than seven hours make is useful in even in areas where electricity is scarce.
CardioPad is currently being used only in Cameroon. The invention, and the technology behind it, will no doubt soon be put in place in many African countries.
Richard Chowning is director of Africa Mentor, a full service agency that facilitates the activities of entrepreneurs and non-profits who are initiating or revitalizing projects in Africa through orientation to African culture and society as well as logistics and pairing entrepreneurs with investors.