15 February, 2010
New Delhi, India
Omkar Nath, 72, started collecting medicines two years ago; says instead of throwing away excess medicines, if they were donated, problems could be solved for those who cannot afford to buy the drugs
TWO years ago, Omkar Nath was desperately looking for an NGO that collected excess drugs. One of his acquaintances needed medicines and Nath wondered if any NGO had a bank of used medicines. He, however, found no such bank.
Since then Nath, 72, has been on a mission to collect excess drugs from residents to contribute towards first medicine bank in the city. And the fact that he is physically challenged – both his legs were damaged in an accident –has not deterred Nath from working towards fulfilling his dream.
“My first aim is to tell people that they should not be throwing away medicines so casually. A lot of patients do not have the means to buy these medicines. Instead of throwing everything we have in excess, if people start donating, a lot of problems will be solved,” said Nath.
On Sunday, Nath spent three hours in Moti Bagh going door to door collecting medicines. He shows off the ‘double bagful’ that he has collected. At the beginning of his journey, Nath had spent two days studying the NGO directory available at the Social Welfare department.
“I looked for days to find an NGO that collected used medicines because someone I knew needed drugs at that time. When I could not find any, I decided to do so (collect drugs), against my family’s wishes,” said Nath, who retired from Kailash Hospital in Noida in 2006.
Every day since February 2007, Nath has been going to residential colonies in the city collecting medicines families do not need anymore. He then, sifts through the day’s collection and separates expired drugs and catalogues the remaining medicines that can be used.
“Once I have recorded everything in my register, I zero in on an NGO and donate the drugs to them. The past two years have been slow, but now people in certain colonies know me and they are more generous with their donations. Someday in my lifetime, I want to see a medicine bank for the poor in Delhi so that no one has to lose their loved ones for the want of medicines,” he said.