Omkarnath, a retired blood-bank technician, spends his days searching for drugs in New Delhi, the capital of India.
The 79-year-old has been collecting unused prescription drugs from the rich for the past eight years, and distributing to patients who need medicines and cannot afford the exorbitant price.
AdvertisementOmkarnath, who is now known as 'Medicine Baba' is not a trained pharmacist, and must see a doctor's prescription before he'll help supply any drug. He says the value of what he gives away each month is around $9,000.
"Every bungalow in Delhi has extra medicines, but sadly they are throwing them in their dustbins," says Medicine Baba, who walks with a limp after an accident that left him with dislocated bones in both legs.
Omkarnath walks more than 4 miles, stopping door-to-door to ask for unused medicines. On one such trip Sunday, he had collected a huge bagful of donated prescriptions in just an hour and a half.
Some 40% of India's 1.2 billion people have no access to modern medicines because they are too expensive or simply unavailable in government hospitals where supplies are often scarce.
Meanwhile, India is exporting 45 percent of the $25 billion in pharmaceuticals it produces each year.
Omkarnath began his mission after seeing some construction workers get badly injured in New Delhi. He says he followed the men to government hospitals where they were told to find the drugs they needed elsewhere.
Dr. Lalima Rangwani distributes medicine Omkarnarth collects. She said at first she wasn't sure she could trust the drugs he collected.
"But when he brought the medicines, I checked it out, the batch number, all he has written on the list. So only then I got convinced that these are genuine medicines," she said.