June 13 - A touch screen tablet invented by a 22-year-old Cameroonian engineer is helping doctors perform heart examinations on patients in remote, rural locations beyond the reach of specialists. Jim Drury has more.
Until recently heart patients in rural Cameroon had to travel long distances for routine tests. Now they can visit the smallest of local hospitals, thanks to the Cardiopad - a medical touchscreen tablet created by local entrepreneur, 22 year old Arthur Zang. SOUNDBITE (French) ARTHUR ZANG, CARDDIOPAD INVENTOR SAYING: "We've created a company called Himore Medical that employs several engineers to get this project to work scientifically and on an entrepreneurial level. We want to produce more devices to meet the demand from hundreds of hospitals that really need this technology." Bankomo Hospital doctor Ndjomo Mba carries out tests such as electrocardiograms on the Cardiopad and transmits the results to a specialist located elsewhere. SOUNDBITE (French) DOCTOR NDJOMO MBA, BANKOMO HOSPITAL DIRECTOR SAYING: "Here in Bankomo, we treat patients with heart problems without them having to go away for treatment. This device allows us to examine them here and perform the electrocardiogram, then send it to a specialist who sends back the final results." It's a service that could revolutionise health care in underserved comunities. Cameroon employs fewer than two doctors for every 10,000 people. Bankomo Hospital is the sole health facility for its 25,000 people, such as Laurent Essomba who has a long-standing heart complaint. UPSOT: LAURENT ESSOMBA SPEAKING Essomba says he couldn't afford to travel to the nearest urban hospital for tests, but that regular Cardiopad monitoring enables him to live and work as normal. Arthur Zang's company hopes to equip 100 rural hospitals throughout Cameroon. The next challenge is to build a solar-powered version to cope with the lack of electricity prevalent in many areas across the continent