At his age, he walks 5-7 kms a day collecting leftover medicines from the rich in Delhi. Meet Medicine Baba, the selfless man who dreams of setting up a medicine bank for those who cannot afford treatment.
Omkarnath Sharma, better known as Medicine Baba, is a retired blood bank technician on a very difficult mission. He wants to start a free medicine bank for the poor and needy.
And for this, he walks around the streets of Delhi, knocking on one door after another, collecting medicines from the upper- and middle-class houses in the city.
“Bachi dawai daan me, na ki kudedaan me. Medicine baba ka ek hi sapna, gareebo ka medicine bank ho apna.” (Leftover medicines should be donated, not discarded. Medicine Baba has only one dream, that the poor should have a medicine bank of their own).
This is Medicine Baba’s daily call at the doors of the well-heeled people of Delhi, those who don’t even often know that they have an abundance of unused medicines lying around in their homes.
At an age when many people choose to rest and spend time with their families, Medicine Baba has no plans of hanging up his shoes. He has been working like this since 2008, when an under-construction Delhi Metro bridge in Laxmi Nagar collapsed and Omkarnath witnessed many injured people suffering because of the lack of adequate medical care.
He saw how the nearest hospital turned away patients saying it did not have the required medicines. For no fault of their own, the injured people had to rush here and there to find a place that could provide proper treatment. Omkarnath was shocked.
He found this situation painfully ironic—on the one hand there were no medicines in the hospitals for people who were dying and on the other there were large quantities of usable medicines being discarded by households every day.
He wanted to do something that had never been done before—to collect these medicines and create a bank of medicines for the poor. And so began his journey.
Omkarnath goes out every morning, takes a bus, and visits a different neighbourhood of Delhi each day. Here he walks around for about 5-7 kms, collecting unused prescription and non-prescription medicines from houses. Over the years, he has been successful in gaining some regular contributors, who sometimes call him to say that he can come and collect the medicines.
Ask him if he has any difficulty walking around so much at this age, and he says, “It is difficult, but if you are worried about difficulties and challenges, how will you work?”
He scans the collected medicines carefully, and maintains a record of all of them. Some of these medicines are stored in a small room he has rented next to his house in Manglapuri, New Delhi. Those who cannot afford medicines can visit him here between 4 and 6 pm.
Medicines in his collection that can be useful to hospitals (like those required for the treatment of cancer), are donated to hospitals like AIIMS, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Deen Dayal Upadhayaya Hospital, Lady Irwin Medical College, and a few ashrams and dispensaries in Delhi. He says that he donates medicines worth Rs. 4-6 lakhs every month.
Medicine Baba says his main mission is not just to collect medicines. The priority is to create awareness among people so they think twice before discarding useful prescription medicines.
For himself personally, the satisfaction that he experiences on seeing people get healed with the help of medicines he donates, is enough. He is proud of his work and this is what gives him the inspiration to keep moving forward despite his age. “I feel so happy when I see them going to work all healed and healthy,” he says
As a retired person, Omkarnath faces difficult times trying to make ends meet sometimes. His family includes his wife, a son, a daughter, and a granddaughter. He manages his work with the help of donations he receives from people from time to time. Other than that, he is also sometimes seen in buses and metros, letting people know about patients who need financial help.
If he manages to collect some money this way, he uses it to donate medical equipment like oxygen tanks, hospital beds, etc.
Medicine Baba is a blessing for many people. At present, he is trying to help some people suffering from cancer and kidney ailments. He is trying his best to arrange money for their treatment. Moving around in Delhi, wearing an orange shirt that highlights his phone number and his mission in bold, Medicine Baba is a source of hope for many. We can only wish that his dream of setting up a medicine bank gets fulfilled.
To know more about Omkarnath and donate to his mission, you can visit his website here.