SA’s second Health Train on the way


    2 March 2010

    State transport company Transnet is to spend over R80-million on building a second special-purpose train, dubbed the Phelophepa II, to provide primary healthcare in the most rural parts of South Africa.

    Phelophepa I, run by Transnet in partnership with educational and health authorities as well as pharmaceutical companies, is fondly known as South Africa’s “miracle” health train.

    The R80-million forms part of a larger R175-million set aside by the company for various corporate social investments, including a significant investment in rural sports development.

    “We are really delighted at the prospects of having to replicate the runaway success that Transnet Phelophepa I has been to the less fortunate and needy communities in our country,” Transnet acting CEO Chris Wells said in a statement last week.

    “This is a sign that Transnet cares about the health and well-being of all South Africans. We are also proud that this state-of-the art train will be built by Transnet Rail Engineering.”

    Phelophepa train

    Phelophepa is a 600-ton train consisting of 18 coaches with air-conditioned compartments. It travels for nine months every year, stopping at 36 stations to provide health care services, and working with local communities to extend primary health care.

    Since 1994 it has provided dental, eye, primary health care and psychiatric care services to hundreds of thousands of people across South Africa.

    Wells said the second train is to be commissioned in 2011 to augment the services of Phelophepa I, which serves around 45 000 patients each year.

    “The intention is to replicate the highly successful model we have used over the years in Phelophepa I,” he said. “The second train will significantly increase both the footprint and frequency of the health care services offered to patients.”

    Training ground

    Apart from offering health care, the train serves as training ground for medical students from South African and international universities.

    “I also wish to acknowledge the contribution of all our partners, especially Roche, a pharmaceutical and diagnostic company which has over the years contributed R7-million each year and pledged to join hands with us again in extending this imaginative partnership to Phelophepa II,” Wells said.

    SAinfo reporter

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