With a crippled leg, 76-year-old Omkar Nath has been travelling by bus or on foot from one place to another collecting unused medicines for the past four years. He gives the stock of medicines to government hospitals, NGOs and other organisations woking for the poor.
Omkar started this practice in 2008 and donates medicines worth around Rs 1.5 lakh every month. A retired blood bank technician, Omkar came up with this idea after witnessing the plight of the victims of an accident in 2008.
“The victims were taken to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. They were given basic treatment and sent back home. But they did not have access to even basic medicines the next day. I thought why not do some work which nobody else is doing,” says Omkar, who lives in Mangla Puri with his family.
Very soon he started collected unused medicines by going door-to-door and opened a medicine bank ‘Rahat Hi Rahat’ where people could donate the same.
Initially, he would also give the medicines directly to patients on the basis of prescription. “Somebody cautioned me that this is a wrong practice. One can’t give medicines like this to patients. I realised they were right.
So I started handing over the collected medicines to government hospitals and other
organisations,” he says enthusiastically.
Wearing an orange cap and a kurta that bear mobile numbers of his medicine bank in bold letters, Omkar collects medicines four days in a week and distributes the same to his target destinations. He receives medicines not only from the country but England and Hongkong also. “Maximum medicines come from Andhra Pradesh.
Once I received medicines worth around three lakh from there but half of them were post expiry dates. So I have to be very careful before sending them to places,” says this agent of chain.
He rues lack of a medicine bank in India and demand opening of pharmacies in government hospital’s OPD 24 hours. “Most people donate medicines as unimportant things lying in homes.
They value it till the time somebody is ill at home. The day illness goes, medicines become a waste. They don’t realised that many people don’t have access to even basic medication,” says Omkar.
He distributes donated medicines at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital, Arya Samaj temple in Vasant Vihar, Sanatan Dharam Mandir on Mandir Marg. He has taken a separate room where he stocks the medicines, and lives with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in another room.
T R Jairath, who works for the Society of Patients’ Care in Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital says Omkar Nath has been giving medicines to the Hospital for around one and a half year.
“These medicines are given to those who approach us saying that they can’t afford them. Sometimes doctors also pick up from his stock and give to patients directly,” says Jairath, a retired bank officer.
His son got mentally retarded around eight years ago while doing some electric work but Septuagenarian Omkar says he doesn’t work as some old man and that is where he seeks the will and energy at this age. “When I am on field. I don’t consider myself more than 35 to 40 years old. I work without any regrets from life.
That is what has keep me going. The result is sometimes the stock of medicines is such large that I don’t have to go for collection for many days,” he says.
“My aim is to make medicines accessible at those places in all over the country where people cannot afford them,” he smiles.
If you want to donate medicine to Medicine Baba, call 9250243298, 9971926518. You can also send the unused medicines at ‘Rahat Hi Rahat Bank’s address: Omkar Nath, B-180, Gali No. 4 (Madirwali Gali), Manglapuri-Phase-II, New Delhi-110045.