Following hand over of the medical emergency services operations unit to the Botswana Defense Force BDF by the
Ministry of Health, emergency ambulance drivers now fear they may lose their jobs.
Ministry of health spokesperson, Doreen Motshegwa, confirmed the handover and said: “It is true that the ministry has deployed BDF ambulance personnel.”
Motshegwa added: “The Ministry of Health (MOH) has requested the BDF to assist with trained ambulance personnel to man MOH ambulances in order to address the current health problem.”
She described accidents, especially road traffic crashes, as the second largest cause of deaths in Botswana.
“A health threat like accidents being the second largest cause of deaths is a public, economic and security threat. Deployment of the BDF is a vital role to ensure economic and public security,” she said.
Motshegwa however added that the unit faces challenges that include training of personnel to operate the ambulances and to receive patients at the hospitals, establishing call centers, purchase of purpose designed ambulances emergency care equipment and fleet management to ensure vehicle availability.
“It is very unfortunate that as drivers we were never told or consulted about the new development that BDF officers will take over the running of emergency services in which we take it as an insult to us,” some ambulance drivers, who opted to be anonymous for fear of victimization, told The Telegraph.
“The most hurting thing is the fact that we might lose our jobs because there is nothing much we are doing as the soldiers are doing our work.”
They expressed concern that ever since the end of the industrial strike in 2011, they feared raising their grievances to management because of victimization.
Contacted for comment office administrator of Manual Workers Union Samuel Molaodi said he was not aware of the latest development.
“I am not aware that BDF officers have been deployed to operate and run the emergency unit. We have not received such communication from the ministry of health,” said Molaodi.
He said the union would be uncomfortable with such a move if it meant that by any chance its members were likely to lose their jobs because of the deployment of soldiers to take over the services.