An abandoned hospital in El Geneina, West Darfur

The Health Department revealed Tuesday that it has deployed more than 1,540 ambulances across South Africa's major routes, strategic points, and hotspots to increase the turnaround time of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) during the festive season, a period that sees heightened demand for such services.

"This number will be complemented by private sector ambulances as part of existing service level agreements entered with provinces to beef up EMS to ensure quick response to major accidents and to prevent avoidable loss of lives resulting from accidents," the department said, SA News reported.

It urged the communities to support the government and law enforcement agencies to create a secure environment for the frontline healthcare workers including nurses and paramedics to perform their duties freely without fear of physical and verbal abuse.

"Health workers have fallen victims of violence and crime in the line of duty over the months and recent years in the country and this can only be stopped if communities become protectors than by-standers," the department added.

It stressed that violence against healthcare workers is "unacceptable" as it negatively impacts their psychological and physical well-being. Moreover, it also demotivates them to provide quality service.

The department emphasized the role of communities in protecting the frontline health workers as it is not possible to have armed security or police alongside every ambulance in the country.

Hence, the communities need to come forward and end such attacks and protect health workers who respond to emergencies and save lives while risking their own.

Not only in South Africa but health workers are at risk of violence across the globe. Data from the World Health Organization shows that between 8% and 38% of health workers suffered physical violence at some point in their careers.

The department urged South Africans to dial 112 and talk to call center agents to call for an ambulance in case of vehicle accidents, domestic violence, alcohol and substance abuse, and drowning. The agents will require details including name, phone number, address, and nearest landmark alongside the patient's current medical status.

"Ensure that you get a call reference number before the end of the call to be used when you follow up on the progress of the call," it added.