Yangyel Lhaden 

Pharmacies in Thimphu sold seven emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) on average daily during the second lockdown.

Thimphu Thromde allowed all the pharmacies in the capital to open from the start of the lockdown so that they could cater needs of the public and ease delivery of health services.

The public call centres such as 1010, 1009, and National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) helpline number 1,098 reported that they got fewer distress calls from individuals seeking ECPs compared to the first lockdown.

NCWC received only one such call during the entire second lockdown. The commission received 18 distress calls during the first lockdown.

One of the de-suups with 1010 call centre said that it must be because all pharmacies were open and people could buy from them.

Thromde health officer, Kinga Gyaltshen said that drawing lessons from the first lockdown the thromde allowed all pharmacies to open.

He said that during the first lockdown procuring ECPs and delivering posed manpower and monetary challenges to the thromde office as people thought it would be free.

There are 13 pharmacies and four pharmaceutical wholesalers in the capital. An individual can procure medical supplies from the pharmacies in their respective zones.

Kinga Gyaltshen said that in some zones where there were no pharmacies thromde delivered ECP and other medical items to individuals.

Thimphu thromde delivered 18 ECP excluding other family planning services during the second lockdown

The proprietor of Kuenphen pharmacy, Jharna Rai, said that at least 10 emergency contraceptives were sold daily. She said that she received some distress calls from individuals asking for ECP late at night saying they had crossed 72 hours.

“I received many calls from people asking for abortion pills,” she said.

Kuenphen Pharmacy receives walk-in customers and frontline workers asking for ECP daily. The pharmacy also carries out delivery services for which they charge a small fee.

Jharna Rai said that during the first lockdown they did not charge for delivery but sometimes to deliver a single pill they had to go out of the town which incurred losses.

Karma Pharmacy’s manager, Norbu Gyeltshen said that the pharmacy sold at least six ECPs daily. The pharmacy followed a schedule for delivery covering all the zones in Thimphu from Monday to Saturday.

He said that besides calls some walked in to fetch the medicines. The shop is  also linked with 1010 call centre and all the medical requirements are noted and delivered according to the schedule.