Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Bhutanese who depend on medicines imported from Jaigaon will have to wait as medicines, even if prescribed, are not being delivered beyond Phuentsholing.

There are at least 10 to 12 “parcels” at the Bhutan Post Corporation Limited (BPCL) office in Phuentsholing. Out of these, eight are ordered from Thimphu and others are from Sipsu, Trashigang and Samdrupjongkhar.


At the gate: Bhutan Post official receives medicines from Jaigaon

Every Wednesday and Friday, BPCL officials in Phuentsholing receive the medicines at the main gate. Prior to this, patients have to call the Dolma Pharmacy in Jaigaon and order their medicine. They can make e-payment.

The medicines are quarantined for a night and then distributed the next day in Phuentsholing.

However, medicines from other places have not been delivered on time because there is no formal and dedicated vehicle for this purpose. BPCL sent eight packages of medicines to Thimphu on September 3 through a stranded vehicle.

The deputy manager with BPCL in Phuentsholing, Sarmilla Chhetri, who receives the medicines and distributes it to the people in the town, said they try to dispatch orders to other places whenever possible.

“But there is no such formal arrangement to send the medicines as of now,” she said.

Meanwhile, with some crucial medicines not available within the country, some are worried. A civil servant in Thimphu has ordered some medicines for his father, a cancer patient, from Dolma Pharmacy in Jaigaon on September 2.

The medicine has been brought to Phuentsholing by BPCL and stuck there since then.

“The medicines are for his heart and blood pressure. They are prescribed by the doctor and not available here,” he said. “I will need the medicines for my father within the next few days.”

Initially, when the border was sealed on March 23, people were allowed to get medicines at the main gate. Jaigaon pharmacies would get the medicine at the gate where Bhutanese made payment in cash or transferred it electronically. This was stopped later and BPCL was given the responsibility to get medicines from Jaigaon and distribute to the people.

In Phuentsholing, after the lockdown, BPCL has made 382 deliveries until September 3.

“I receive more than 100 calls a day,” Sarmilla Chhetri said. “People mostly order medicines from Jaigaon for diabetics and heart disease.”