Omkar Nath Sharma – Medicine Baba
Omkar Nath Sharma born in India (around 1940) also known as the “Medicine Baba” . This alias is is given to him because he voluntarily collects unused medicines from people and distributes them to the poor for free of charge. Since last six years ,wearing a saffron kurta (shirt) that says “Mobile medicine bank for poor patients”, Omkar starts every day at 6 am from his rented home in the Mangalapuri slums and goes door to door in different areas of Delhi asking for unused medicines, which he then distributes to charitable hospitals, NGOs and clinics.
The “Medicine baba” is now a familiar figure in Delhi’s neighbourhoods, and residents routinely carry out handfuls of medicines for him.
At the end of every collection, Omkar carefully catalogues everything in his binder: the name of the drug, the manufacturer, where he collected it and the expiry date. His collection includes everything from calcium tablets to antibiotics. “Some medicines have to be stocked in the fridge, so I have to be very careful,” said Sharma. “All these medicines lying here are worth more than Rs.20 lakh.”.
“All of us have some medicines lying around in our houses but we end up throwing them in the dustbin,” said Omkar. “This idea struck me a few years back when I saw how the poor struggled to buy medicines. When I first started, I was ridiculed and called a beggar but now people respect what I am doing,” he added.
It all started in 2008 when he witnessed the Delhi Metro under-construction bridge collapse in East Delhi. The accident claimed the lives of two labourers while injuring many others. The local hospital administered basic first aid but could not do anything beyond that. The injured returned home to die as their families were unable to afford the cost of treatment. The incident shook Omkar and he became determined to not let something like this happen again. From then on, inspite of being crippled, Omkar walks five or six kilometres per day. He cannot afford the metro rail fare, so travels by buses with the help of his senior citizen pass. In remote areas where buses do not ply, he simply walks
Sharma is hopeful his unorthodox service is making some difference to people living in a country.
In India 65% of the population lacks regular access to essential medicines. (According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)).