The Phelophepa Health Care Train will roll into Nelson Mandela Bay early next week to deliver healthcare services to impoverished communities.
The train, with a hybrid Sesotho and Setswana name roughly translated as “good, clean health”, spends 36 weeks a year travelling the country and delivering healthcare services.
It will spend two weeks in the Eastern Cape, starting in Swartkops on Monday.
The main objective of the Phelophepa train, started by Transnet in 1994, is to assist marginalised communities where people have to travel far to access healthcare services that are often too expensive for most of them.
The train’s staff teach visitors about the importance of prevention and early detection of medical conditions as well as providing screening for diseases, eye care and dental services.
Zingisa Sofayiya, 29, a “social mobiliser” who encourages community members to access the train, said: “We really want to bring hope to as many lives as possible, and bring services to people who otherwise could not afford them.” For instance, spectacles cost R30. “Not only do we provide these medical services at affordable prices, but we recruit students who are going to be the future nurses, doctors and health facilitators and train them through helping the people who come to the Phelophepa Health Care Train,” she said.
Train manager Lynette Flusk, 30, said Phelophepa staff helped about 289 000 people a year and hoped to reach even higher numbers as the project continued to develop.
The Phelophepa Health Care Train will start its Eastern Cape visit in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday, with visits to Mthatha, Mount Ruth, King William’s Town and Queenstown to follow.