Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Train of Hope’ brings healthcare to South Africa’s poor



‘Train of Hope’ brings healthcare to South Africa’s poor

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A nurse for Transnet-Phelophepa Healthcare Train points out the window as patients sit in a queue at the Dube Station in Soweto on June 22. AFP

‘Train of Hope’ brings healthcare to South Africa’s poor

A 19-coach train pulled into the Dube station of South Africa’s emblematic Soweto township early in the morning to bring desperately-needed and virtually free medical services to poor residents.

Equipped with instruments and gear for optometry, dentistry, general medicine, psychology and a pharmacy – the Phelophepa clinic-on-rails criss-crosses the country for nine months a year.

Law student Retshepile Mosena, 18, was among the hundreds that thronged the station south of Johannesburg this week. She has suffered sight problems for two years, but has struggled to save for an eye test and spectacles.

“I was. . . saving up to buy glasses for myself, but this opportunity came up and I took it,” she said waiting on the platform for her lenses to be fitted into a frame.

She paid just 30 rand ($2.10) for the test and glasses – a fraction of what she would have paid elsewhere.

Despite being the most advanced economy on the continent, South Africa grapples with widespread poverty and high unemployment.

Healthcare is virtually out of reach for the poor, and Phelophepa, which means “good, clean health” in the Tswana and Sotho language, is a godsend.

Run by Transnet, the state-owned logistics operator, it started in 1994 – the year apartheid ended in South Africa – as a modest three-coach optometry service.

“Hundred per cent health coverage is still not about to be reached any time soon in South Africa,” the train’s acting manager, Thelma Sateke, said in a recent interview.

So the mandate is to bring “health services to the people, where it’s needed the most”. she said.

While the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the country has limited its function and reach, it is expected to attend to around 65,000 people this year, said Sateke.

“The train still has a lot to do . . .     to bring the services to the rural areas [and urban] where services are nonexistent at some point or they are very rare,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the