Omkarnath, a 79-yr-old retired technician, has been collecting unused prescription drugs from the affluent for the past eight years, and distributing whatever hasn’t expired to patients who need medicines they cannot afford, reports Hindustan Times
Omkarnath spends his days searching New Delhi for drugs. A call to the phone number printed boldly on his saffron-colored tunic reveals his alternate identity: “Hello, I am Medicine Baba.”
He walks more than 7 km, stopping door-to-door to ask for unused medicines. On one such trip on Sunday, he had collected a huge bagful of donated prescriptions in just an hour and a half.
The “Medicine Baba” is not a trained pharmacist, and must see a doctor’s prescription before he’ll help supply any drug. He doesn’t charge though he says the value of what he gives away each month is more than Rs. 5 lakhs.
Dr Lalima Rangwani distributes medicine Omkarnarth collects. She said that at first she wasn’t sure she could trust the drugs he collected but after checking out the batch number, she was convinced that these are genuine medicines.
Omkarnath began his mission after seeing some construction workers get badly injured in New Delhi. He says he followed the men to government hospitals where they were not given treatment and told to find the drugs they needed elsewhere.
He says he has built up a stock of drugs and medical equipment worth tens of thousands of rupees from weekend trips to wealthy neighborhoods and more than a dozen collection boxes set up in private clinics around the city.
He stores his cache in a small rented room next to his home in the fetid slums of Manglapuri in southwest New Delhi.
Omkarnath depends on cash donations to cover his costs and modest living expenses, which come to about Rs. 32,000 a month. Eventually, he hopes to build a nationwide network of medicine banks. He says:
“My efforts make up merely a drop worth of solution to a huge ocean of problems. I hope before I die this becomes a bigger movement and I contribute at least a glassful.”
Omkarnath’s one-man recycling effort is not just a stellar example of philanthropy but also a human example of compassion.