Author’s Blurb: We’ve written a few MCO/COVID-19 articles by now about what various businesses from different industries have been doing to help out during the pandemic, whether it’s through serving the public or our frontliners. But we haven’t written about pharmacies yet, so I wondered, what can a pharmacy do to help at this time?
We reached out to Watsons Malaysia to get some insight into what they’re doing as a pharmacy, and spoke to Caryn Loh, its Managing Director.
Watsons Malaysia currently operates more than 500 Watsons stores in the country.
First of all, we wanted to know what was different from the usual, with the MCO now in place.
How Things Have Changed
Following government orders, Watsons Malaysia’s stores have had their standard operating hours of 10AM to 10PM changed to 8AM to 7PM, which allows their store employees to rest and go home to spend time with their families.
The pharmacy has also taken initiatives to ensure shoppers’ safety and hygiene. “All our store frontliners are wearing face masks, taking care of their personal hygiene, making sure store equipment is sanitised, and practicing social distancing by ensuring shoppers stand 1 metre from the cashier counter and each other while shopping,” Caryn said.
However, they’re also encouraging shoppers to stay home and shop online, as Watsons Malaysia can deliver to them.
For a majority of pharmacy necessities, you’ll be able to purchase them on the app, though Caryn said that e-prescriptions to buy behind-the-counter medicines online have still not been fully recognised by the Ministry of Health yet.
“Hence, prescription medication would still be required to be personally collected from the pharmacy counters. Selected Watsons stores nationwide are still open, and our pharmacists are at the forefront serving our customers,” she added.
When doing deliveries, Caryn assured us that their partners wear face masks, ensure personal hygiene, and are working towards contactless deliveries.
Giving What They Can
Watsons Malaysia also contributed products and supplies to hospitals and healthcare frontliners to aid in curbing the spread of COVID-19, as part of its CSR efforts.
The contribution included Watsons’ own brand items such as Watsons Antibacterial Wipes, Watsons Vitamin C, hand sanitisers, thermometer scans, and rain coats.
This was in collaboration with #KitaJagaKita, an NGO that connects those who want to lend a helping hand to those in need through their civil social initiative.
The supplies were channelled to 17 hospitals and healthcare centres in the Klang Valley like Hospital Sungai Buloh, PPUM, Hospital Selayang, HUKM, and Klinik Kesihatan.
“Our warehouse management and employees make sure that all the products are thoroughly checked before they go out to our frontliners,” Caryn said.
Throughout the process, she added that employees wear face masks and gloves when managing the items, and of course, practice good personal hygiene and social distancing while carrying out the packaging.
“As a pharmacy chain, we must remain available for the people to get their essential needs in a way that is safe and convenient,” Caryn stated.
“At Watsons, we have several initiatives to support this, and we also encourage Malaysians to stay healthy and safe in line with the government’s order to stay at home and safe during this period in order to flatten the curve.”
Grocery stores have been recognised for their initiatives thanks to the attention that panic buying had brought on, but I don’t think many of us had considered how pharmacies were faring during MCO.
It’s good to see Watsons Malaysia setting an example for what role a pharmacy can play at this point in time, since the items that they donated could have simply been sold for revenue.
I hope to see more of these initiatives being carried out by more pharmacy chains if possible, and that Watsons Malaysia itself will make this an ongoing effort for as long as manageable.
Bottom Line: I can’t think of a more suitable party than pharmacies to donate essential items to our medical centres to help, since pharmacies already supply the general public with these items 365 days of the year. One thing that this interview also reminded me of was that pharmacy employees are frontliners themselves and deserve the utmost respect.
- You can read more on what we’ve written about the MCO here.
Featured Image Credit: Watsons Malaysia