IT was touted as the “game of the year” but for pharmacies in Bulawayo, the Highlanders versus Dynamos match brought business of the year as most drug stores registered the biggest volume sales of the morning after pill.
If reports by pharmacists that emergency contraceptives, better known as “morning after pills” sold like hot cakes beating supply are anything to go by your guess is as good as ours — it was in celebration of Bosso’s 2-1 victory.
“The morning after pills are on demand usually on Mondays but this previous Monday after the Highlanders and Dynamos match our sales shot up and we nearly ran out of stock. I would like to believe it was the excitement before and after the match that caused people to engage in unprotected sex,” said a pharmacist.
Ordinarily in a week most pharmacies sell about 2 000 to 3 500 pills. The pills cost between $4 and $6.
“Although the pills sell well across all ages, including among married men and women, we thought when school opens there was going to be a decline in the demand since most of our customers are youths but that didn’t affect our business, it’s still in high demand.
“It’s not an exaggeration, the pills are keeping us in business,” said one pharmacist who preferred anonymity for professional reasons.
The pharmacist added that pregnancy test kits which are pegged at $1, $2 and $15 were also in high demand. The $15 one was the most accurate.
The B-Metro survey also revealed that mostly men buy the pills.
“Some women don’t tell their partners to wear a condom, because they want to be trusted so it’s up to the men to buy,” the source added.
The reality is that negotiating condom use that results in the man agreeing to use a condom during sex is not often successful.
The National Aids Council (NAC) has condemned the use of the morning after pill saying it fuelled the spread of HIV and Aids.
Bulawayo provincial monitoring and evaluation officer Douglas Moyo said indications by pharmacists were “scary” considering the fact that Bulawayo was one of the country’s HIV hotspots and has a high prevalence rate.
“The high demand of the morning after pill is a clear indication that people are engaging in unprotected sex. It is really a cause for concern for us as NAC. We are urging people to continue using protection wherever they are especially taking into consideration the fact that Bulawayo has the highest prevalence rate of HIV.
“According to 2015 HIV estimates, the national prevalence rate is at 14,7 percent while that of Bulawayo is estimated to be 20,9 percent which is way above the national prevalence rate. This is for the ages between 15-49 years. So the risk of meeting somebody who is HIV positive is higher in Bulawayo and that is why we are urging people to continue using protection,” he said.
Pharmacists also warned that prolonged use of morning after pills could affect the menstrual cycle and cause fertility problems and could also result in early, heavier and more painful periods.
Emergency contraceptives can be taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex and they temporarily stop the release of an egg from the ovary, prevent fertilisation and also prevent a fertilised egg from attaching itself to the uterus.