Phelophepa: South Africa’s hospital on rails
If the patient can’t travel to a distant hospital, the hospital must come to the patient - on rails. Since the spring of 2012, the medical train Phelophepa II has been travelling across South Africa providing care to people in rural areas. The train is excellently equipped with medical equipment and a communications network of fiber optic connections by HUBER+SUHNER.
Phelophepa II, a train featuring the latest medical equipment, first started on its tour through South Africa’s eight provinces in 2012. This hospital on rails is the second of its kind and was built in the mould of Phelophepa I, which was launched back in 1994 by the Transnet Foundation and has been on tour in South Africa ever since. The main goal is to take basic medical care and AIDS prevention advice to South Africa’s rural regions. Phelophepa II houses a number of medical professionals including general practitioners, dentists and ophthalmologists, as well as offering psychological counselling. A team of 19 doctors and assistants on board treat local patients with the support of some 1200 medical students every year and an integrated pharmacy distributes the much-needed medication. In addition to this, a nurse offers an advisory programme and visits surrounding schools and communities.
A seminal project
Transnet repaired older rolling stock for the medical train, equipping it with state-of-the-art medical devices and communication systems, the latter in collaboration with South African HUBER+SUHNER distributor Dartcom. A fiber optic network transmits video, voice and data throughout the train. The data is transported via a backbone cable and intercar cables from HUBER+SUHNER; a LISA distribution system handles fiber management in each carriage. An external fiber optic cable with ODC connectors from HUBER+SUHNER leads from the train to a bus that accompanies Phelophepa II on all of its travels. The bus uses a satellite link to communicate with the outside world and provide updates on this forward-looking project. After all, Phelophepa is a trail-blazer in all senses of the word: medically, thanks to its ultra-modern equipment, but also in terms of communication thanks to fiber optics on the train.
The Transnet Foundation is dedicated to the fields of education, health, sports, art and culture in South Africa. The hospital on rails is one of its projects. Phelophepa I travels about 15,000 km each year in South Africa, treating over 45,000 patients. A further 200,000 adults and schoolchildren benefit from the advisory programme. Thanks to Phelophepa II, these figures will double from 2012. The name Phelophepa contains elements from Sotho and Tswana, two of the official languages in South Africa, and, freely translated, means “Good Health”.