Unintended pregnancies can hurt one’s quality of life, causing emotional and financial distress to couples. The current situation of the pandemic sees a rise in unwanted pregnancies which can result in serious, long term detrimental health effects to women as well as families.
According to Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia (RRAAM), the number of people seeking safe abortion services has increased by 48 percent. The number of calls received from women in their late pregnancies has also increased by almost 20 percent.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing lockdown, pharmaceutical company Bayer jointly introduced and launched a telepharmacy service with DOC2US, in an effort to provide remote pharmacist services by connecting specialists at Alpro Pharmacy and BIG Pharmacy to the public.
Business Unit Head of Women’s Healthcare Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Angeline Chong, said, “Bayer has a long history in women’s health and we have been supporting family planning programmes for more than 50 years with our innovative contraceptive portfolio. We are constantly innovating to find new ways to engage everyday women and equip them with accurate information in the selection and effective usage of contraceptives.”
The first telepharmacy focusing on family planning, it sets its sights on empowering women to take charge of their reproductive health and make sensible family planning decisions through accessible oral contraceptives and free virtual health advice.
Consultation can be delivered instantly free of charge via DOC2US which can be accessed on mobile devices. Note that a family planning feature will be made available at the end of August on the DOC2US website and mobile application (on Apple Store and Google Play Store).
In addition to the convenience of the service, users can get a prescription over the platform. They can opt to pop in at the pharmacy for their oral contraceptives or have it delivered to their home for free.
DOC2US CEO, Raymond Choy said, “Rising concerns of COVID-19 exposure has accelerated the adoption of telemedicine in the country, where we see more Malaysians open to accepting virtual solutions as a safe and viable alternative in seeking healthcare in this new normal. The strong uptake of telemedicine in Malaysia in the recent months, coupled with consumer expectations to make greater use of digital health services in the next few years will enable us to cater to the tech-savvy community and offer them greater convenience, especially to women.”
So what can you ask and how will it benefit you and your family?
One reason many women steer away from contraceptive discussion and counseling is due to shyness. Hence, this platform helps bridge that knowledge gap by presenting an alternative, especially for those who are not comfortable visiting a pharmacy or healthcare professional to seek contraception advice.
Alpro Pharmacy pharmacist Jah Hanini explained that women can seek free consultation for all their family planning needs, such as learning about the facts and benefits of contraception for family planning as well as asking about the best contraceptive method and options that suit their lifestyle.
Teleconsultation is an important alternative to obtaining assistance on family planning during this time. Telepharmacy, in the long run, can increase the uptake of contraceptive methods and challenge the stigma surrounding family planning.
Education is of vital importance in overcoming the barriers on contraception and family planning methods. Having knowledge and understanding can make the community more receptive towards contraception.
According to Hanini, contraceptives provide a host of health benefits, including reduced pregnancy-related illnesses or conditions, reduced risk of developing certain reproductive cancers and can treat menstrual-related disorders. It can also effectively prevent unwanted pregnancies and meet the country’s need for family planning.
Among the contraceptive methods available are oral contraceptive pills (OCP), male and female condoms, spermicides (usually in the form of gel applied to female genital prior to intercourse, that contains a substance which kills sperms), female sterilization (tubal ligation), intrauterine devices (IUDs), intrauterine system (IUS) and injectables.
Teleconsultation is available from 9am till 9pm every day from Alpro Pharmacy and BIG Pharmacy. One can also chat with chatbot ‘AskMaya’ for contraceptive information. Currently, Alpro Pharmacy is available in Taiping, however, one need not worry about the physical store as it is online.
For more information, visit their website.