Cameroon at the heart of innovation thanks to the CardioPad

I can still remember the day I discovered the incredible work of Marc Arthur Zang, the entrepreneur behind the CardioPad (Himore Medical). It was three years ago, I was a journalist at Le Monde and I had just received the press kit for the 2014 Rolex Awards. I remember jumping on my chair when I read the name of one of the five winners: Marc Arthur Zang. I had an overwhelming sense of pride. I was so happy to see an mboa local lad putting Cameroon on the innovation map.

The Cardiopad is a tablet that reads the heart’s physiological data and sends it to a cardiologist
The Cardiopad is a touch screen tablet that reads the heart’s physiological data and then sends it to a cardiologist. No specific guidance is needed to use the device; even a person with basic training can handle the Cardiopad. This is a particularly useful invention in Cameroon, where there are only around 50 cardiologists for 24 million inhabitants.

Talking to Marc Arthur Zang’s old friends from the Polytechnique university in Yaoundé, where he completed his degree in computer engineering, it became clear that he was always destined to make a name for himself in the world of science and innovation.

Today more than ever, wandering through the towns of Douala, Kribi, Bafoussam and even Yaoundé, you see more and more people jogging and looking after their health. Why? Quite simply because the number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease is continually increasing. This is a result of the economic transition, urbanisation, industrialisation and globalisation. These factors are leading to lifestyle changes that foster heart disease.

The Cardiopad: a perfect response to this problem
These risk factors include smoking, lack of physical exercise and a poor or unhealthy diet. Talking to medical professionals and listening to Marc Arthur Zang, it’s clear that one of the reasons for the increase in cardiovascular diseases (CVD) worldwide is the growing number of old people. Like other non-communicable diseases, CVD don’t always receive the attention they deserve.

As a consequence, CVD clinical care is expensive and lengthy. These direct expenses deter most households from seeking medical care. The Cardiopad is therefore a perfect response to this problem.

“A solution needed to be found”
It was in 2009 during his end-of-course internship in Professor Samuel Kingue’s cardiology department at Yaoundé General Hospital, that the idea of the Cardiopad was born. The professor explained that the difficulty facing his department was how to monitor patients who live in remote areas of the country. And, as Marc Arthur Zang likes to say, “a solution needed to be found”. Aware of the work required, he decided to take online training thanks to the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on the Indian Institute of Technology’s website. Eight years later, he has won a number of awards, including the Africa Prize, and his invention has been certified and is already marketed in Cameroon.

“Marc Arthur Zang is, in my opinion, one of the most inspirational entrepreneurs of his generation”
If you meet Marc Arthur Zang, as I did, a quote from Étienne François de Vernage will come to mind: “Nothing is more capable of attracting people’s admiration and approval than great merit accompanied by humility and modesty”. Marc Arthur Zang is, in my opinion, one of the most inspirational entrepreneurs of his generation, despite his shyness and discretion. His work and his actions in the field are sources of motivation for young Cameroonians. He doesn’t intend to stop at Cameroon, and he’s quite right because the world is his oyster.

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