New Delhi: At a time when getting basic medicines to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic has been a struggle for many in the country, a doctor couple in Mumbai are collecting medicines from those who have recovered from COVID and providing it to those in need. Meds For More, a citizen-led initiative started by the couple – Dr Marcus Ranney and Dr Raina Ranney – collects unused and unexpired medicines from COVID recovered patients. In an interview with NDTV, Dr Marcus Ranney said the idea struck after one of the family members of their domestic staff got COVID-19. Recalling the day when Meds For More was conceptualised, 37-year-old Dr Ranney said,
On May 1, one of our household staffs’ son was diagnosed with COVID-19 and he asked us if he can bring the report. While waiting for him, I was just chatting with my wife, who is also a doctor, that you know some of these medicines are really expensive like Fabiflu so what can we do to help?
Instantly, Dr Ranney realised that in his apartment building, Atur Terraces, three people recovered from COVID-19 recently. He immediately dropped a message on the building’s messaging group, asking recovered COVID-19 patients to send leftover medicines to him so that he can give it to people in need.
My wife also texted on residential society’s WhatsApp group and other neighbouring societies and before we knew it, we had 10-15 people extending a helping hand. As of today, we have reached out to around 100 residential complexes in Mumbai and collected over 125 kgs of medicines. That’s how an innocuous question led to the birth of Meds For More, said Dr Ranney.
The idea is to send these medicines to the primary health care centres in rural and tribal areas across the country for the effective treatment of the people. Dr Ranney who has worked with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in slum areas during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and has seen the misery of people first hand says,
COVID-19 not only affects lives but also the livelihoods of the people and a lot of people cannot afford even basic medicines required for the treatment.
Screen, Segregate And Box: Meds For More Works The Robinhood Way
The couple has joined hands with various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals who have stepped up as volunteers. The medicines are collected, screened to check the expiry date and packaging, segregated and then packed to send TO different locations.
Explaining the collection process in detail, Dr Ranney said,
There are two ways for collection – one is an individual donor that is people willing to donate can reach out to us through e-mail or social media and send across the medicines. In Mumbai, we have set up collection points, one each in South, North, East and West. Second, if someone wants to volunteer and collect medicines at a local level. We provide posters, creatives for boxes, a list of medicines that are required and other things needed for the collection drive. Local building representatives circulate the message on the WhatsApp group and put up a notice. Parallely, a collection box is kept in lobbies. Individuals send the medicines down to the building and they are stored in the box which is sent to us.
The medicines are then screened to ensure there is no expired medicine and then segregated on the basis of steroids, blood thinners, vitamins, antivirals, anti-acids, among others. The segregated medicines are then packed and labelled with the name and the number of doses in a box.
Dr Raina Ranney said that the team collects medicines used in the treatment of COVID-19,
This includes anything from pain relief to fever to steroids to even Fabiflu, antiviral, anti-allergies, anything that can be used to treat COVID patients is what we are essentially collecting. We don’t take medicines like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab. We have also had people donate a few other medicines which haven’t been used in the COVID efforts, said Dr Raina Ranney.
Starting May 17, the initiative has been expanded to four more cities – Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Kolkata. With the help of local and national level NGOs, the distribution process has began in Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. More states to join soon.
In the first two weeks, we only collected medicines. Before we start distribution, we have to ensure that partner NGOs have the right licenses and permissions to operate and reach out to people. They also need to ensure that these medicines are given to people through a proper prescription. We are acting as an amplification channel to bring the mission from people who have and provide it to people who don’t have it, said Dr Ranney.
‘Robinhood style citizen-led initiative’, as Dr Ranney calls it, also aims at reducing waste by bridging the gap between the haves and have nots and making use of the limited resources. He informed that people have also suggested the team to collect oxygen concentrators and other types of medicines for other diseases.
Inspired by people’s goodwill and the willingness to help, Dr Ranney said,
As medicos, it is easier to help. We have a skill set and an ability to do something. I felt people from non-medical background wanted to do something but didn’t know how to do. Donating unused medicines is a small act that we all can do at an individual level but collectively it leads to a greater impact.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.
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