The Phelophepa health train is on its way&

Cape Town - Thousands of patients in rural parts of the Western Cape will have specialist healthcare services brought to them. Services like dental, psychological care, and cancer screening services - for which they would normally have to travel great distances - will be available when the Phelophepa Health Train rolls into the Western Cape.

On Monday, the MEC for Health Nomfrench Mbombo and the MEC for Transport Donald Grant officiated at the arrival of the two locomotives in De Doorns.

Offering free and low-cost health services such as eye and dental clinics and other primary health screening services, the trains will be stationed in that town until the end of the week.

Since its launch in 1994, Phelophepa has reached 23.5 million people, delivering vital healthcare services to remote and rural areas who would otherwise not have had access to a doctor or be aware of any health problems they may have had, the departments said.

Mbombo said the clinic would help clear backlogs in the public health system.

“Partnerships are vital to ensure that each citizen gets access to quality healthcare services. This train is a beacon of hope to many, and that is why our government fully supports this project.

“We are looking forward to building a good working relationship with the foundation in an attempt to extend these services to more areas in the Western Cape where it is much needed,” she said.

Travelling between 35 and 36 weeks each year, visiting various communities in rural areas each week, the train’s main objective is prevention and early detection of medical conditions, as well as screening and education.

The trains would either provide services in communities which do not have them, or improve the government’s services.

Grant said the train initiative highlighted the importance of rail networks and their extended benefits.

“We have long maintained that a reinvestment in rail is crucial for the economy of the Western Cape, but the Phelophepa train has shown that such an investment will also go a long way to improving healthcare and overall wellness as well,” he said.

* De Doorns until Friday.

* Oudtshoorn: August 24 to 28.

* George: August 31 to September 4.

* Swellendam: September 7 to 11.

* Ashton: September 14 to 18.

* Saldanha: September 21 to October 2.

Cape Argus