Phelophepa Health Train on the right track in Polokwane

POLOKWANE – The message is good health all the way as the Phelophepa train pulls into the Polokwane train station. Today (Friday) is the last day the train will be assisting residents in the city.

Phelophepa, which means “good, clean health”, is a unique mobile healthcare clinic that uses the existing rail network and travels to remote communities in South Africa, where dental, optometry, psychological and pharmaceutical services are offered.

“It is much faster than any of our hospitals and their service is excellent. I took my mother there for her eyes and it was the best service we could ask for. She was assisted fast and immediately received glasses for reading. I would encourage everyone to go and see the well-trained professionals who really care for their patients,” a Polokwane resident who visited the train told Review.

With the assistance of Transnet, the Phelophepa train has returned to Polokwane to assist people, in rural areas especially, with various medical issues.

Also read: Click on the link for a virtual tour of the Phelophepa train

The eighteen coach trains, with twenty resident staff members, fondly known as the ‘miracle trains’, carry modern medical equipment on board.

The Phelophepa health train is ready and waiting for patients at the Polokwane train station.

Also read: View Phelophepa train mini-site.

Although the Phelophepa health trains only visit areas for a short period of time, the goal is to supplement and support existing facilities to ensure the residents continue to benefit from quality health care once the train has departed. By focusing on education and empowerment, the trains leave having equipped an informed community members, which is a core value of the Phelophepa programme.

• Before the train rolls into town, teams are sent out to alert the community of the days the train will be delivering services.

• Relationships are established with existing health care providers so patients can be referred to local doctors and continue to receive the care they need once the train leaves the station.

• While the train is in the area, screening and health care education are the primary concerns. Nursing teams visit local schools to screen children and educate them about basic health care.

For nine months of every year, Phelophepa I and II travel the country, spending one or two weeks at 40 stations countrywide reaching almost 400 000 underprivileged people through its on-board and community outreach programmes.

Phelophepa follows a primary health care model. Dentists and oral hygienists, psychologists and counsellors, nurses, pharmacists, optometrists and optical dispensers offer their services to the public. They are mostly final-year students or interns.

Since its inception in 1994, and with more than 40 permanent staff and numerous volunteers, the train has become more than a mobile hospital. It also provides outreach and educational programmes and has reached more than 20 million people thus far, making it the world’s biggest mobile clinic.

It does not compete with or replace available health care services, instead it complements those services and aims to assist people who cannot afford health care and often experience barriers to access public health services.

Click here to view the 2017 Transnet Phelophepa Health Train Schedule

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Riana Joubert

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