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The Miracle Train

Since 1994, the Phelophepa train has been travelling around South Africa bringing affordable healthcare to rural communities who may otherwise have to go without. With a team of 22 travelling medical staff, backed up by medical students and around 15 support personnel, the train has so far treated some 14 million people.

Complete with an on-board pharmacy, a general health clinic, a dental clinic, an eye clinic and a psychology clinic, it was dubbed 'the Train of Hope' by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Others simply call it 'the Miracle Train'.

Private healthcare in South Africa is prohibitively expensive for most people, while the public health service is severely overstretched, particular in rural areas where there is a chronic shortage of staff and equipment.

Stopping for two weeks at a time in towns across the country chosen mainly for their lack of access to healthcare, the train is in operation for nine months of the year. For the tight-knit team of staff who live onboard, it offers a rare glimpse into the furthest corners of this diverse country. For patients, many of whom have been living with undiagnosed conditions for years, it offers a lifeline.
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