Some deliveries take a couple of days to be completed. Since intercity travel is highly restricted, Maneesh takes the help of his friends in Uttarkashi, Nainital and even remote villages where he cannot reach.
With The Positive Collective, The Better India’s COVID-19 coverage is available to regional language publications for free. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
For patients of diabetes, hypertension and other lifestyle diseases living in Uttarakhand, there is one reliable source of medicines – Maneesh Pant.
A fireman with the Uttarakhand police, living in the town Pauri, Maneesh has delivered emergency medicines to at least 100 patients in Dehradun, Almora, Chamoli, Pithoragarh, Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi and other cities in the state, since 22 March. Performing his duty during the day and then arranging for medicines for patients at night, the first response officer has rightly earned the tag, ‘Medicine Man’.
The Better India (TBI) got in touch with Maneesh to find out more about this initiative which he calls ‘Operation Sanjeevani’.
Hero From Uttarakhand: “I should help out as much as I can”
It started on the day of the Janata Curfew when stepping out of the house had been restricted. Maneesh’s neighbour, a 65-year-old woman (name withheld upon request), suffered from a sudden spike in her blood pressure. Her family called up Maneesh since he works in the police force and asked if her medicine could be arranged.
“No pharmacy in the neighbourhood was open so I had to go to a hospital to purchase the medicines for her. On my way back, I started thinking – if she needs medicines on such an urgent basis, many others may need them too. And not everyone will have police personnel or someone from the government departments to help out. I should help out as much as I can,” Maneesh tells TBI.
Within 24 hours, he had devised a plan to reach out to as many people as possible. He put up a post on Facebook asking people to reach out in case they need any medicines delivered. “If you are a senior citizen living away from your children or if you can’t get essential medicines, send me a message with your location and a picture of your doctor’s prescription,” said the post.
So far, the post has been shared over 500 times. Soon enough, requests started flooding in – some from Dehradun and others from Almora, Chamoli, Nainital. Maneesh got to work on every request and helped out senior citizens, pregnant women and even children.
Making Deliveries Across Uttarakhand
For Maneesh, no distance is too long when it comes to delivering medicines to the needy. “I once got a request from a patient living some 90 km from my home. The weather was terrible that day and riding my bike through the Himalayan hills was too risky. So I asked my seniors if I could take the official police vehicle. Since they knew about my ‘Operation Sanjeevani’, they happily gave it. Where there is a will there’s a way and I make sure I find a way for every patient,” the 30-year-old shares.
So how does Operation Sanjeevani work?
“I contact the doctor who prescribed the medicines or the pharmacy that the bill belongs to. If they are open, I go there. I carry snacks in case I find someone who needs it en route. I click a photo at the pharmacy, send it to the person who made the request and then go to their place,” he explains.
One of such people who reached out to Maneesh, is Dinesh Jakh, another resident of Pauri. “My 13-year-old daughter undergoes treatment at the city hospital for fits. During the lockdown, the delivery of her medicines was uncertain. I saw Maneesh’s post on Facebook and requested him to get us medicines for a month. He was kind enough to get them delivered,” he shares with TBI.
Delivering Medicines, Delivering Happiness:
In cases where the patient cannot pay for the medicines, Maneesh pays from his own pocket. “A family of daily wage labourers had called me for medicines for their toddler. They requested a week’s dose. I was puzzled since the lockdown was obviously going to last for a couple of more weeks. When they explained their financial situation, I had no doubt in my mind. I purchased a month’s dose of medicines as well as ration and gave them for free. How could I accept money from them when they were in such a tight situation?” he tells TBI.
Some deliveries take a couple of days to be completed. Since intercity travel is highly restricted, Maneesh takes the help of his friends in Uttarkashi, Nainital and even remote villages where he cannot reach. “I get the medicines from Dehradun and ask my friends who are transporting essential goods to other districts to carry them. A police officer, also a friend, collects this parcel in the right district and sends it to the family. At every step, we update the patient with photos so as to keep them in the loop,” he shares.
Maneesh has spent Rs 35,000 from his own pocket for ‘Operation Sanjeevani’ of which he says he has recovered about Rs 23,000. The rest is his contribution to people who cannot afford to buy essential supplies during these difficult times.
Today we are nearly two months into the lockdown. It has been difficult for all of us, especially for those who cannot access essentials including life-saving medicines. Maneesh’s voluntary work is ensuring continued good health to people during the restrictions of the current times. Kudos to the fireman with a big heart!
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)