Yangyel Lhaden

Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral hospital recorded 962 pregnancy cases until July this year. In the same period last year, the total number of cases was 867.

Doctor Sonam Ugen, Head of Community Health Department, said that the pregnancy cases increased by 95 which was not drastic but measures to avoid unwanted pregnancies was taken care from March.

She said that contraceptives—oral, injection, and condoms to last for three months—were given to registered patients.

These services are still available during lockdown through outreach clinics.

Yesterday, seven people received family planning services through outreach clinic in Chang Gewog.

An official from Renew said that it was an individual’s sexual right to avail contraceptives and if such needs are not made available at this moment it would lead to all forms of gender-based violence.

Pregnancy during lockdown could be due to consensual sex or forced one which would create undue burden on women and girls after this pandemic, an official from RENEW added. “It is a ‘shadow pandemic’, happening but not seen.”

On May 11, Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck addressed the nation on the risk and additional burden on women and children during the Covid-19: “I urge the Ministry of Health to ensure Sexual and Reproductive Health services as well as maternal, newborn and child health, health sector response to gender-based violence services continue to receive priority throughout the crisis situation. They are essential life-saving services which need to be part of the critical response to the crisis”

All forms of contraceptive, including emergency contraceptives pills, are being delivered door-to-door by health facilities in Thimphu.

There are four centres from where health services can be availed—Community Health Unit, Hejo Satellite Clinic, Motithang Satellite Clinic, and Royal Bhutan Police Dispensary.

Kinga Gyaltshen, a thromde health officer, said that he procured 100 I-pills from a pharmacy and distributed them among the four centres.

Doctor Sonam Ugen said that on the second day of lockdown she received a call from a girl asking for I-pill. She said that the health team delivered it to her along with condoms, as prolonged use of emergency contraceptive was harmful. She was also given health advice.

Doctor Sonam Ugen said that although contraceptives such as I-pill and condoms would be delivered door-to-door, callers should also be mindful about the timing of order.

One of the Health centres received a call at mid-night asking for an I-pill. Doctor Sonam Ugen said that I-pill could be taken within 72 hours. “It is an emergency, yes, but there are priorities.”

Contraceptives would be delivered between 9:00am and 3:00pm.