SA’s healthcare trains chug along steadily

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Transnet’s Phelophepa I and II healthcare trains are on track to reach their 12-millionth patient by the end of September, Transnet chair Linda Mabaso said in a Polity report. To date, the “clinics-on-wheels” have reached a combined 11.7m patients since inception in 1994.

The report says the Phelophepa healthcare train project comprises two train-sets, with the second launched in 2012. They use Transnet Freight Rail’s existing infrastructure to deliver primary healthcare services to rural communities.

The services operate for 36 weeks in a year and have the capacity to serve nearly 400,000 patients a year. Each train is staffed by 40 full-time employees, as well as 40 student volunteers on a fortnightly rotation – most of the students are reading for healthcare disciplines at various universities across South Africa and abroad. Mabaso reports that 4,000 students have received experiential training opportunities through the Phelophepa initiative.

Operated by the Transnet Foundation, Phelophepa I and II offer on-board primary healthcare, dental and optometry screening, basic health education courses, psychological care and community counselling. The report says companies and organisations such as Roche, the Colgate-Palmolive Foundation, 3M and American and Swiss Friends of Phelophepa also support the initiative.

Full Polity report

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