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All Aboard the Phelophepa Health Train!

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phelophepa_logoEighteen years ago, the most innovative and ambitious healthcare project in the history of South Africa, the Transnet-Phelopepha Health Care Train, was born.

Phelophepa means “good, clean health” and is the name given to a train that delivers primary healthcare to rural South Africa. Those whohave experienced it call it the “train of hope”.

This mobile hospital provides quality, primary healthcare to communities where health care services and medical infrastructures do not exist. The train provides optometry, dentistry,basic medical care and health education. Phelopepha operates 36 weeks a year and assists about 40,000 patients annually.

At the beginning of 2008, the Breast Health Foundation established a partnership with the Phelophepa Health Care Train. Breast Health Foundation educators use the train to educate and increase awareness about breast health, breast self examination and the importance of early detection, thereby empowering women in these remote and underprivileged communities.

Valerie came to the Phelophepa Health Train in Balfour, Mpumalanga, in 2010. “We only had to pay a small amount that also included medicine.” During her visit a lump was discovered in her left breast. Louisa, from the Breast Health Foundation, told her about the Helen Joseph Hospital (HJH) breast clinic in Jo’burg. “I went and they did a sonar and a mammogram and a biopsy and it came back positive.”

Valerie had her operation in January 2011, “The implants they put in are extremely expensive, but they did it for me for free. I can’t afford a medical aid, but got the best treatment!”