South Africa's 'Miracle Trains' – Transnet's Phelophepa I and II, which provide healthcare to rural communities across the country – have harnessed the power of antimicrobial copper to help deliver safer healthcare to millions of people.
14th July 2015
The 18-coach trains travel for 35 to 36 weeks of each year, visiting a different community every one to two weeks, and with over 300,000 people using the facilities annually, infection prevention is a high priority. Consequently, they have been equipped with germ-killing antimicrobial copper door handles to help provide a more hygienic environment for patients and staff. Antimicrobial copper cupboard doors will soon be added to the kitchen facilities, and plans are also under way to install antimicrobial copper table tops in some of the clinics.
The Transnet-Phelophepas – whose name means 'good, clean health' – carry medical professionals and medication along with counsellors and health educators to communities that have no other access to healthcare facilities or education. Using South Africa's rail network, the trains travel to remote communities where, in some instances, only a single doctor is available for up to 5,000 people.
'We added copper to our existing infection control measures to provide additional protection against the spread of infection for the thousands of people who use our trains every year,' explains Shamona Kandia, Senior Portfolio Manager for Health Transnet Foundation. 'Phelophepa is about improving not just the health of individuals, but the health of entire communities, resulting in a healthier and more productive South Africa. Preventing the spread of infection is key to what we do, and research has proven that copper has an important contribution to make.'
Copper is a powerful antimicrobial with rapid, broad-spectrum efficacy against bacteria and viruses, including MRSA, norovirus and Mycobacterium tuberculosi (a pathogen that causes TB). It shares this benefit with a range of copper alloys – such as brasses and bronzes – forming a family of materials collectively called 'antimicrobial copper'.
Touch surfaces made from solid antimicrobial copper are used by healthcare facilities around the world to reduce the spread of infections such as norovirus and MRSA, supporting key infection control measures such as good hand hygiene and frequent surface cleaning and disinfection.
For more information and high-resolution images, contact:
Copper Development Association
Copper and copper alloys are engineering materials that are durable, colourful and recyclable and are widely available in various product forms suitable for a range of manufacturing purposes. Copper and its alloys offer a suite of materials for designers of functional, sustainable and cost-effective products.
Copper and certain copper alloys have intrinsic antimicrobial properties (so-called ‘Antimicrobial Copper’) and products made from these materials have an additional, secondary benefit of contributing to hygienic design. Products made from Antimicrobial Copper are a supplement to, not a substitute for standard infection control practices. It is essential that current hygiene practices are continued, including those related to the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces.