Health train coming to FS

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Christopher Motabogi

The impoverished communities of Thaba Nchu near Bloemfontein have been requested to utilise the services of the Phelophepa Healthcare Train, which will visit various rural communities in September this year.  The train is part of Transnet’s social responsibility programme aimed at uplifting the communities where the company does business.  Phelophepa Healthcare Train manager Onke Mazibuko says the project has been a success since it started in 1994.

“I think it’s made a tremendous impact, because of the nine provinces of the country, the train has only visited eight; Gauteng is the only province that the train has never gone to,” says Mazibuko. He says: “If the train visits four provinces this year, we visit another four the next year. So it’s always good to see that when you come back to the same community there is a bit of change because it’s not only about treating primary health concerns, it’s also about raising awareness.”

He adds Transnet also runs an outreach programme where they teach community members how to have basic knowledge on basic health skills and how to identify certain illnesses and how to use a referral basis within the same community they live in.  According to Mazibuko, wherever the train stops, between 40 and 65 local people are temporarily employed. “We offer small socio-economic opportunities for people in those communities when we’re there for that time. So when the train comes to a particular place, people have an expectation that there’ll be that employment for that period. And the train is mostly staffed by final year students that work in the various clinics and the staff members manage and supervise them. So the experience that they get in terms of working with communities and the cases they’re exposed to is very different from what they see at the universities,” says Mazibuko.
He also praised other stakeholders for their involvement in the project.

“The train does not aim to replace any existing structures. We would never be able to do what we do without the support of the department of health, the local municipalities, the defence force and SAPS and also the mayors of each of the towns.”
Meanwhile, Northern Cape communities were the first to receive visits by the Phelophepa Healthcare Train this year. The train has been in the province since last week.