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Train delivers health services

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

South Africans are receiving free health treatment thanks to the Phelophepa Train service. The Phelophepa Train which is run by Transnet is making a difference by providing health services in rural communities across South Africa.

The Phelophepa Train has been servicing communities across the country since 1994 in optometry, dental and general health services.

Head of the Transnet Foundation, which runs the Phelophepa Train, Molatwane Likhethe, says people using the train's services can get a new pair of glasses within an hour of completing an eye test; do a dental X-ray or tooth extraction; screen and test for diabetes and cancer; and access medicine from the train’s pharmacy.

The train also has an on-board psychology clinic to help deal with cases of mental health patients.

“The Phelophepa Train service travels along the rail corridors of the country delivering a basket of health services through its 19 carriages. The train stops for two weeks in each stop and offers the onboard medical services as well as training to community health workers.”

The Phelophepa Train’s pharmacy can process
20 000 medicinal scripts each year. The pharmacy charges R5.00 for each prescription script. People who are 16 years old and less in age are not charged.

The train specialises in servicing rural areas but this year, due to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, all normal services were suspended and the focus was on screening and testing of COVID-19.

“When Lockdown Level 5 was declared in the country the train was reprioritised to assist with the pandemic. We deployed the trains to KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape where the National Department of Health needed urgent assistance,” says Likhethe.

The Phelophepa Train service, which for the first time this year is in Gauteng, will expand its dental and cancer services. Likhethe says that they are looking to expand the train's footprint in rural communities.

Community members  looking to find out when the train will service their communities can  visit the Transnet Foundation’s website on http://transnetfoundation.azurewebsites.net/phelophepa.html.