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Phelophepa building healthy communities

Phelophepa building healthy communities

A lot of people in the low-income communities often experience barriers with the access of basic healthcare services but with the Transnet Phelophepa Train in town for a few days that will be a thing of the past.

The train is in town to provide basic healthcare services to the people of Buffalo City until 3 March and is stationed at Mount Ruth Train Station.

Phelophepa comes to the City in an effort to confront these challenges to rural communities and also to support existing healthcare services, by providing a range of affordable, accessible mobile medical care.

Speaking about the initiative, Phelophepa Manager Lynette Flusk said that the initiative was established in 1994 operating with only three eye clinic coaches and making visits every two years.

“Over the years, the train has since expanded to an 18-car train that offers comprehensive services in dental care, eye care, diabetic screenings, pap smear, prostate and breast cancer screening and psychological counselling,” said Flusk.  

She added that in 2012, Phelophepa rolled out a second train which made it possible to visit every year covering four provinces with a total of 35 stops around the country.

“Due to the high turn up of patients every year, the train allows other patients to spend the night at the station. Mostly, those are patients coming to the eye care clinic as that service always has high number of patients each year.”

“It is a situation we try to avoid but it is not always possible as some patients travel long distances to get to the station,” she added.

Nomabandla Mngambe from NU3 Mdantsane has had vision problems for two years. Mngambe was excited when she received a pair of glasses.

"My poor vision has limited my ability to perform daily activities, I have difficulty moving around unfamiliar places and sometimes identifying faces and objects. I hope my vision will improve with my new pair of glasses,” said Mngambe.

When asked why she did not seek help from public health services, Mngambe said that she could not afford the fee that is required to get prescribed spectacles, she was also discouraged by the waiting period between eye testing and receiving the spectacles.

Noloyiso Mkhwakhwi from Nxarhuni visited the dental care clinic to extract a tooth. Mkhwakhwi said that she has been hesitant to seek help because of a traumatic experience she had a few years back when she extracted her wisdom teeth in a public hospital.

She received good reviews from members of her community about the service at Phelophepa that she decided to come.  

"I am so glad I came here today, the dentist was so friendly and gentle during the extraction. I did not feel any discomfort, I was even able to have a meal afterwards. The service was exceptional,” said Mkhwakhwi.

From Mount Ruth Train Station, the dedicated team of 22 permanent staff, supported by students will continue on their nine-month medical journey stopping at King William’s Town and Queenstown, before moving on to the Free State, North-West Province and the Western Cape.

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