Phelophepa to reach 10 000 patients

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
By: 
Mandla Khoza

Mbombela - Six thousand more people in Mpumalanga are expected to be checked or treated for illnesses on the Phelophepa health train.

Transnet Phelophepa Clinic train manager, Thabisile Makhaye, said more than 4 000 people had already been treated since the train stopped in the province last month.

"The train is now in Mpumalanga; we have already passed Acornhoek and we are now in Mbombela and in the three weeks that we have been here, we have treated 4 602 people. We believe before we leave here we will reach more than 10 000 people," said Makhaye.

She said the professionals on board the train checked or treated patients for different illnesses including high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Some have also received dental and eye care.

She said check-ups were done for free while medicines were sold at only R5. "We also clean teeth and remove them for free. If someone needs specific treatment, we only charge R10," said Makhaye.

The Phelophepa health train is an initiative of Transnet which started in 1994 to give affordable primary health care to the poor.

Whenever the train pulls into a station, 40 health lifestyle volunteers are there to help the community in health awareness.

"Each week we train 40 volunteers to teach the local community... we also employ 70 people for different things like interpreting for the doctors who might not speak the patient's language, cleaning and other work," said Makhaye.

Makhaye said among the doctors and nurses on board were fourth-year students specialising in certain health professions and doing their internships.

"The students are working under the supervision of doctors. As we also test for cancer and HIV. We work with the Department of Health in each province. This ensures that these patients get help even when we are gone," said Makhaye.

Makhaye added that Transnet had introduced a second train. "The other one is now in the Northern Cape and this one is going to leave Mbombela on June 18 for Kinross near Secunda," said Makhaye.

Constance Sehlabela, 53, said she had come for a check-up because she could not see well.

"I do not have money to go to a special doctor, but here they checked me for free and gave me spectacles for only R30. Now I can see properly and can even see when it's dark," said Sehlabela.

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