Lack of healthcare
and proper medicines are a major reason for High Mortality in poor. Striving
for a change, Omkar Nath Sharma popularly
known as “Medicine Baba” is doing something which Indian government failed to
do. The 79 years old voluntarily collects unused medicines from people
and distributes them to the poor free of charge. Since the last 8 years Baba
has been into this work with no profit return. Crippled at the age of 12 in a
car accident, he manages to walk five to six kilometers every day collecting
medicines. He stays with his wife and a mentally challenged son. Baba speaks
more about his journey and about his life in this interview.
1.Tell us what made you think of making a
medicine bank for the poor?
I started distributing medicines after I faced an accident in 2008 in LaxmiNagar, East Delhi. Early in the morning a pillar fell off from the construction site of the metro station killing four people sleeping near it. Many people were injured in the accident. There was no immediate medical aide giving to them because they did not have money to buy medicines .This left most of them handicapped for life. I thought of the other poor people who die because of lack of proper medications. So I started free distribution of medicines.
2. What was your profession before becoming the “Medicine Baba”?
I was a blood bank technician of a hospital in Noida. I hail from Udaipur, Rajasthan and came to Delhi some fifty years ago. I had a monotonous life with an average income
to lead my family. But I found a purpose to my life in 2008 when I started the
medicine bank. I am very happy and proud at the same time for the efforts I am
taking in changing lives of the poor.
3.For how long have you been doing the work as “Medicine Baba”?
It has been seven years since I started this bank alone. Initially there were a lot of hindrances and not many people turned up in giving medicines. After involvement of the media, my motive was appraised and I got more help. Today I have volunteers helping me. Now I also get donation of medicines from other countries.
4. How do you organize the medicines collected which are large in number?
I carry two bags for the collection of medicines. The expired and useful medicines are kept in separate bags. The expired medicines are then sieved from the useful ones. The name of helpful drugs along with their prices and expiry dates are fed in the computer for record and reference.
5. What do you do for your livelihood earning now? Are there organizations supporting you?
I have no personal source of income for my family. I am too old to work anywhere. My son is mentally ill and cannot work. I struggle and earn for poor people only. It is just out of the donations received from people we manage to feed ourselves. No organizations are helping us financially.
6. What kind of medical aide do people give?
It is mostly the medicines that I get from people. But few hospitals have also donated walking sticks and wheel chairs. There are many people who cannot afford buying wheel chairs and sticks and thus I give them for free.
7. What awards have you been conferred with?
I have been conferred with several awards. All of them are given by the private organizations. I also receive gifts from people all over the world. Today morning I got a courier from US which was unexpected. Such awards and gifts motivate me to do more and better.
8. What is the average amount of medicines you donate every month?
Every day I collect medicines of approximately Rs. 15000. Taking the entire figure, it comes to be around Rs.400000 to Rs.600000 worth of medicines I donate every month. Irrespective of this my monthly income is not even Rs.4000.
9. What kind of help are you looking forward from the government and the private bodies?
I am a man with genuine motives. I do not seek any personal or financial help for myself. All I want is a bigger room for keeping the medicines intact. My room is very small and becomes difficult to keep all the medicines at one place. All the information about the medicines is stored in the computers and if I get more computers things will be organized in a better manner. It will be a great support if government helps me.