The Phelophepa train, presently on its annual visit to the province, will be at the railway station until tomorrow (Friday) where it has been rendering free healthcare services to residents since 20 July.
Phelophepa initially started in 1994 to deliver eye care services to rural communities and has since become known also for its unique contribution in the field of dentistry in rural areas, where these services are scarce. It has evolved into a fully-fledged primary healthcare train and in 2012 another train was equipped as a mobile healthcare facility.
The train brings healthcare services to rural areas in South Africa, supplementing and supporting existing facilities, with a permanent staff component living on the train for nine months every year. Volunteers, comprising final year students from various academic institutions, gain invaluable experience assisting and being supervised by experienced permanent workers. Other volunteers are trained in the communities visited by the train.
Anna Mokwena manages the Phelophepa 1 train. She says the staff is working very hard in Polokwane as many people knew the train was coming. Asked about their hours of operation she said the staff starts at 08:00 and stop working when the last patient of the day has been attended to.
The train’s staff offer health, oral, dental and vision screening programmes, health education awareness and counselling services. Screenings for diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer and hypertension are done on the train. A small fee is asked, such as R30 for a pair of glasses and R10 for dental procedures such as extraction and restoration. Should prescription medication be supplied, the patient has to pay R5.
Prescription glasses, produced in a laboratory on the train, and ready-made readers are available.
Mokwena said she loves her work on the train. She has been employed on Phelophepa since January 2014.
The train will be assisting people in Mokopane from 10 to 14 August and will be in Mookghophong from 17 to 21 August.
After that, Mokwena said, they will be on their way to the Northern Cape.
Story: NELIE ERASMUS