Pioneering medical invention to be presented at Dubai Summit

The young African inventor of a world-pioneering medical device will be among the speakers at this year’s Annual Investment Meeting in Dubai (30th March – 1st April 2015), on Sustainable Development through FDI-Induced Innovation and Technology Transfer.

Cameroonian Arthur Zang, founder and CEO of Himore Medical, was a 21-year-old computer science student when he started designing his system six years ago.

Called the CardioPad, it consists of a set of ECG electrodes that connect to a touch-screen tablet and from there to a remote device. One of the things that makes it unique, is that instead of relaying data via the internet, the CardioPad contains a SIM card that connects to a 3G mobile network. It can therefore be used almost anywhere in the world, including many places where the internet is either unreliable or non-existent.

As Mr Zang explains: “A patient can go to his village hospital, have the nurse place the electrodes on his chest and send the ECG data by 3G from the tablet to a device in the city where the cardiologist is based. The cardiologist then sends his/her diagnosis and treatment advice straight back. This avoids patients having to travel long distances to city hospitals, with all the time, money and risk of accidents involved.”

If Arthur Zang has been invited to appear as a panellist and speaker at this year’s AIM summit, it is because his CardioPad is the perfect example of a product with huge market potential but comparatively low production, marketing and distribution costs.

It therefore demonstrates how sustainable development and high investment return can go hand-in-hand. This is particularly relevant in an area like cardiovascular disease, which according to the World Health Organisation kills around 17 million people annually and is responsible for 80% of deaths in developing nations.

As Mr Zang explains, “Technical solutions are very important for developing countries but they need to be created and produced locally, as products from elsewhere are often prohibitively expensive and not necessarily very well-adapted.”

It is not hard to see the potential explosion in demand for devices like the CardioPad. Cameroon is fairly representative of the rest of Africa in its very low doctor-to-patient ratio, with just one practitioner per 5,000 inhabitants, and a grand total of 40 cardiologists for a mainly rural population of 23 million. And many populations outside of Africa have similar problems accessing specialist healthcare, due to long distances, transport problems, lack of financial resources and so on.

And yet, Mr Zang’s own experience demonstrates how the potential of technology financing in developing countries has yet to be fully realised. He was only able to develop his device, from design idea to finished product, thanks to a free online education programme in digital electronics run by NPTEL1, plus a series of small private donations—the first being from his mother, who took out a personal loan to finance the creation of a prototype. Other sponsors—including the President of Cameroon Paul Biya—have discovered the CardioPad via videos posted by Mr Zang on the various social networks2, YouTube3 and fundraising sites such as Indiegogo4.

Nevertheless, Mr Zang is hoping that the next step—of marketing the CardioPad worldwide—will attract key investors. “All the work to plan, design, patent and produce our first stock of 400 CardioPads has already been done—now we just need the funding to produce it en masse and to complete the homologation and certification processes required for export to other continents.

“There is really immense potential here, because not only is this device unique in terms of what it can do and its use of 3G, but it also has a sale price that is almost half that of any other remote diagnosis system. We are also working on the development and integration into the CardioPad of additional diagnosis tools, such as ultrasound and EEG, which will make it even more attractive to buyers worldwide.”

Arthur Zang will be a panellist at two separate sessions of this year’s AIM summit—the session on FDI in Healthcare Services, plus the first ever session aimed at showcasing SMEs and start-ups to potential investors and venture capitalists, entitled “Top Business Opportunities: the New Wave of Innovative Start-Ups in Growing Markets”. In this latter session, Arthur Zang will be joined by Jamal Benabbes Tarrji, Founder and CEO of GAM Enterprise in Morocco, and Aboubacar Sidy Sonko, founder and CEO of MLouma in Senegal.

This will be the 5th edition of the Annual Investment Meeting, which is organised under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Last year’s Meeting attracted more than 11,000 visitors (nearly double that of the previous year) from some 112 countries—figures that are expected to increase yet again this year.

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