All aboard the health train: Phelophepa mobile clinic rolls into Gauteng

The Gauteng Health Department have launched the Phelophepa II train in the Ekhuruleni district on Wednesday 2 September, with the mobile health service rolling into Springs train station to provide health services to some of the province’s most vulnerable people for the first time.

The deployment of the Phelophepa II train is part of an agreement between Transnet and the Gauteng Department of Health, and serves to provide health services that became backlogged during the COVID-19 pandemic in areas that struggle to gain access.

“We know that the arrival of this train to the different areas in our country has contributed significantly to improving access to quality health services, especially to people that are in marginalised and most vulnerable communities, specifically in rural areas,” the Gauteng Department of Health said. 

Phelophepa rolls into Gauteng

The Phelophepa II was manufactured in South Africa and consists of 19 carriages, each offering their own health service; from cancer screenings to eye and oral care, psychological services and pharmaceutical services. 

The first train started its journey more than 25 years ago, and has assisted approximately 14 million people with medical ailments, dispensed medication to over three million patients, and provided health screening to over two million people.

It was previously stationed in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape, but this is the first time that residents in isolated parts of Gauteng will benefit from its services.

The train will remain at Springs until 11 September, before it makes its way to Oliphantsfontein and then Soweto. The Phelophepa I is currently providing similar services to residents in the North-West province, where it will be stationed until the end of 2020.

Phelophepa will ‘close the gap’ on healthcare backlog

Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla was on hand to officially launch the Phelophepa II, and said that with health services having struggled to accommodate patients as efficiently as they would have hoped during the pandemic, the Phelophepa II will be an invaluable resource. 

“We are in a period where we have been dominated by COVID-19, which made it very difficult to focus on other obligations of the Department of Health,” he said. 

“Because of the nature and gravity of COVID-19, we had to roll out many facilities with the focus on saving lives, in terms of prevention and management of those who were affected, and still are affected, by the virus.”

He said that this focus meant that other services suffered. 

“This made it very difficult, to administer other services such as treatment for chronic diseases, infections diseases, tuburculosis, HIV treatment and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes.”

“This service is very welcome because it helps us to be able to close the gap. 

Pictures: take a look inside South Africa’s health train  

Take a look at some of Phelophepa’s impressive facilities and services here:

Dental services onboard.
Photo: Twitter/Gauteng Department of Health 
Eye care services are available.
Photo: Twitter/Gauteng Department of Health 
Pharmacy team on site preparing flu packs as part of the COVID-19 response and dispensing of other meds. Photo: twitter/Gauteng Department of Health

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Presh JM Reporter

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