As pilot project, ministry of health (MoH) yesterday installed a condom vending machine at the Roads Safety and Transport Authority building in Phuentsholing.

The town’s residents can now insert a Nu 5 note and get condoms in less than half a minute.

Six more condom vending machines will be installed in Phuentsholing.

An official from the ministry, Namgay Tshering, said, “We have 50 condom vending machines to install in 11 dzongkhags across the country. Thimphu is next.”

Namgay Tshering said that if the project helps reduce instances of sexually transmitted diseases, the project would be taken to all the dzongkhags in the country.

MoH officials said one of the aims of this public-private partnership project was to minimise misuse of condoms.

Vending machines will be installed in hotels, entertainment centers and parking lots, among others.

Yoezer, a representative from Namsay Zomla Drayang, said the machines would help prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Sonam Tshewang, proprietor of Phuentsholing Private Diagnostic Centre, said, “It is a great move by the government. People should not be embarrassed to use the machines.”

Phuentsholing Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said it is the responsibility of the town’s residents to take care of the machines. “Don’t think it is government property and misuse them. Government property is our property.”

Highlighting Phuentsholing’s proximity to the border and the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases, Uttar Kumar Rai said coming of the condom vending machines is an important development. “Phuentsholing has the second highest HIV cases,” he said.

A machine cost health ministry Nu 125,000.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing