Speech by Mr. Malusi Gigaba MP, Minister of Public Enterprises on the occassion of the launch of Transnet-Phelophepa II in Mdantsane, East London
12 Mar 2012
I am honoured to have the opportunity to address this important occasion of the launch of Phelophepa II, the second healthcare train funded out of the Transnet Corporate Social Investment Programme. We can say it without any exaggeration that this is Corporate Social Responsibility as it should be done, not throwing money at the problem, but investing in sustainable programmes that leave a real legacy and empower communities.
What started off 18 years ago as a modest three-coach eye clinic has become a world-renowned beacon of hope, providing healthcare throughout South Africa, particularly in rural areas in five provinces, allowing us to reach communities and people that need healthcare the most. Today, the healthcare services provided by Phelophepa include the dental, eye-care, counselling and even basic screening services for things such as blood pressure, diabetes and others.
The R82 million Phelophepa II project was engineered and built at Transnet Rail Engineering’s facility in Salt River, Cape Town, using South African skills. This facility shall also be responsible for the maintenance of the trains.
The train is a carefully designed modern engineering marvel boasting advanced technology such as the use of fibre optics as a network medium - a first for any train in South Africa. The refurbishments and technical specifications of the train have been developed using the latest technologies available embracing modern methods of communication such as satellite technology and wireless networks.
It, plus Phelophepa I, shall service about 360 000 people per annum and they have a budget of about R102 million combined. This demonstrates public-private partnerships can be used to transform the lives of communities through social entrepreneurship.
When President Zuma pronounced that health would be one of the five top priorities for his administration, he was directing all of us, both in government and the private sector, to use the enormous resources in our command to contribute to creating healthy communities. Access to quality health care is a basic human right which enables individuals, households and communities to lead productive lives. Failure to meet this basic need would result in countless citizens being trapped in inter-generational poverty.
One of the glaring legacies of apartheid was to deny the majority of South Africans access to quality health and it created a dual and inequitable health system. The persistent nature of the dualism in health care has undermined public sector efforts to ensure that South Africans are afforded access to quality health care without paying exorbitant fees.
The Transnet Foundation has developed a responsive approach to this racially and class based health care system through its Corporate Social Responsibility programme by making health services accessible to the poorest of the poor and thus rightfully assisting government to achieve its development agenda and address social inequities.
Section 27 of the South African Constitution states that all citizens shall have a right to quality health care and South Africa is a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals which call for the eradication of poverty and inequality and investment in health care through global and national initiatives.
Transnet heeded this clarion call by investing in meaningful initiatives aimed at uplifting the quality of life of the poor and vulnerable, that is, women, children and youth. Some of the initiatives supported by the Transnet Foundation include healthcare, education, containerised assistance, sport, heritage and grant funding.
The train is a complete mobile resource, staffed with both permanent staff as well as temporary student volunteers that complete internships in the various disciplines on-board the train as well as in communities once the train docks. In this way, as well as addressing a basic need and delivering a basic service, it contributes towards youth development and empowerment by offering young people an opportunity to serve the masses.
As a provider of health services, it has expanded its services over the years based on the need expressed by the communities to which the train provides services. Currently services are provided in partnership with the private sector, the primary sponsor of the train’s on-board health clinic and pharmacy being F. Hoffmann La-Roche.
Since inception in 1994 a total of six million patients have been assisted through Transnet-Phelophepa I. The train has through community outreach services assisted a total of 2 013 553 individual and trained 12 000 community volunteers from vulnerable communities across South Africa on basic health care.
The Phelophepa has developed a sustainable model of health provision by transferring skills to communities so that they are able to handle primary health care needs at community level. This ensures continuity of services when the train departs and leaving a real and empowering legacy that develops vital capabilities.
The health care programme is carefully crafted, taking into consideration the management of partnerships to promote the sustainability of all services; open channels of communication between all stakeholders; and a process of consultation with communities on their needs to ensure proper buy-in and value-add of services provided. These partnerships enrich the nature and quality of services that are provided by the health care train.
As result of the lessons learned from the journey of the Phelophepa I train, the value it adds to the lives of the people including the empowerment model of young professionals and imparting basic health information to ordinary citizens, it was decided to launch Phelophepha II. The train has become a conduit learning space to those in the health sector and has introduced a health revolution in the form of health consciousness within communities and social health solidarity.
The rational for launching the Phelophepha II in the Eastern Cape is motivated by the fact that in this Province alone, the train has visited the Eastern Cape communities a total of eight times, benefitting almost 800 000 patients. Today’s launch reaffirms our commitment to a shared vision of creating sustainable communities by promoting a long and healthy life for all.
We would like on this occasion to applaud Transnet on this magnificent milestone and to commend the company for continuing to re-affirm through its endeavours the importance of State-Owned Companies and the role they can play beyond their business mandates to support the government’s social agenda.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Public Enterprises
12 Mar 2012
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