Cameroonian innovator Arthur Zang has won the second Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation for his heart-monitoring device, the Cardio-Pad, earned a prize money of £25,000 (U.S.$ 36,000).

Zang’s remarkable 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.

In most African countries cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are now the second most common cause of death after infectious disease, accounting for 11 percent of total deaths (according to the World Health Organisation 1999).

Arthur Zang (centre) with judges Malcolm Brinded CBE FREng and Dr Bola Olabisi Photo: Royal academy of engineering
Arthur Zang (centre) with judges Malcolm Brinded CBE FREng and Dr Bola Olabisi Photo: Royal academy of engineering

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.

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Considering the gaps in early detection and diagnosis of CVDs, this is where Zang’s invention comes in handy.

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.

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Hundreds of Cardio-Pads have been built, and the device has already been sold in Cameroon, Gabon, India and Nepal. Zang 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

The three runners up, who each win £10,000, are:

  • Eddie Aijuka for Kamata from Uganda for an electricity-theft-prevention device that attaches to each household power supply and alerts authorities and cuts off power supply when the power is tampered with.
  • Felix Kimaru and the Totohealth team from Kenya for a web-based network that supplies mothers and pregnant women with life-saving information and advice
  • Matt Wainwright and the Standard Microgrid team from South Africa for an electricity utility-in-a-box that speeds up rural electrification and reduces energy costs


Source: Royal academy of engineering