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Health train visits NC

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Pharmacy translator Ronald Ngubane accepts medicine to be handed to a patient. He speaks six languages – English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Tswana, Xhosa and Sotho.
Pharmacy translator Ronald Ngubane accepts medicine to be handed to a patient. He speaks six languages – English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Tswana, Xhosa and Sotho.
Photo: Emile Hendricks

The Phelophepa Healthcare Train has brought some relief to communities who do not have access to medical care. The train arrived in Kimberley early in June and later departed for Upington and De Aar.

The roaming medical facility offers various types of health care, such as dentistry, optometry, pharmacy and psychology.

The 450 m long train, housing a corporate social investment (CSI) project of Transnet with assistance from the Department of Health, travels year-round across the country – spending eight weeks in each province. The project was started in 1994.

The mobile hospital was flooded by community members in urgent need of medical care while it was parked at the Kimberley station. Some of its medical units received visits from, on average, between 100 and 120 patients a day.

Patients, who were issued with ticket numbers, arrived from surrounding areas in the early hours of the morning – while some slept at the station the night before to ensure their place in the queue.

Services at all medical units were facilitated by students doing their practical work, under the supervision of the resident staff members.

The 19-coach train generates its own power. Half of it is used for clinical purposes, while the other half is used for storage and accommodation for personnel.

Emile Hendricks
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