Published: 31st May 2021
This Mumbai doc couple is collecting leftover COVID meds and giving it to the poor. Here's how you can donate
Meds For More is a citizen-led initiative started in Mumbai by Dr Marcus Ranney and his wife Dr Raina Ranney. We find out more
When one of their acquaintances tested positive for COVID in May, Dr Marcus Ranney and his wife Dr Raina Ranney decided to help out with the medication, especially given how costly it could get. "Raina and I were discussing how we could help as the medicines are pretty expensive. That's when I realised that in the building that we reside, there were three patients who had just come out of isolation. I put a message on our building WhatsApp group asking if anyone had leftover medicines which they were willing to give and if it was good enough to give to someone who needed it. That's when we realised that if medicines collected from one building could help one person, then what happens if we do it on a larger scale?" says Dr Marcus. What started in their Mumbai apartment building has now grown into a countrywide citizen-led movement. Called the Meds For More initiative, the doctor couple with the help of a thousand volunteers across the country collect unused, unexpired, leftover COVID-19 medicines and give them for free to those who need them but can't afford them.
Within ten days of the launch, they had received contributions from over a hundred buildings and collected 20 kg of medicines. "During the first wave, I was a frontline volunteer and I was working in the slums in Mumbai. I got to see the devastation that happened not just to people's health but also in terms of their livelihoods as well. This time around the challenges intensified to a much higher degree and every doctor in the country is inundated with requests for help and diagnostics. We thought this initiative could help reach the needy in this time of distress," adds Dr Marcus.
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"We started in one building, then spread it to our local neighbourhood and from there the word just spread. We got a lot of requests from across the city asking us how they could replicate this in their neighbourhoods. It took off from there and we have around 125 buildings in Mumbai alone contributing towards this cause," says Dr Raina.
Dr Marcus Ranney with packages of medicines meant for dispatch (Pic: Meds For More)
So, how are the meds collected? Donors from across cities can now visit the newly launched website www.MedsForMore.org
It currently includes the ones used to provide symptomatic relief such as fever, pain relief and anti-allergens. "We are not collecting remdesivir or tocilizumab, these have to be given under supervision and at very specific cases," Dr Marcus emphasises.
They will then be provided info about their nearest collection centre. Conversely, the medicines can be collected from the donor’s house through a logistics and transportation partner. "A donor can book via the partner's app to take it to the collection centres. We have five collection centres in each city. Once these medicines are collected they are then transported to an NGO where they are segregated and then sent to primary health centres across the country where the medicines will be dispensed to patients with mild to moderate infection, free of cost," adds Dr Marcus.
One can also become a volunteer in their own building or residential society. "You can choose to do so, once you sign up, you receive a starter pack which has all the instructions on how to go about collecting the medicines. It then gets dropped off to the collection centres and follows the same procedure," adds Dr Raina.
Dr Marcus and Raina Ranney donating medicines to an organisation (Pic: Meds For More)
Meds For More is now operational in five cities across the country namely, Ahmedabad, Delhi/NCR, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Mumbai and four more will be added to the list next week. The mission is being led by local residential teams across these locations and their motto is: small acts of kindness can lead to collective change. "There are hundreds of volunteers across cities, who collect medicines, coordinate transport, keep the social media handles going, create content for the website etc. We are extremely grateful as it couldn't have been done without people who came forward," shares Dr Marcus.
Speaking about why they partnered with NGOs, he adds that these medicines then reach communities that have no access, no affordability. "We needed to have NGOs that have been working on the ground. We have partnered with several, including Goonj, Doctors For You, Ratnanidhi Charitable Trust, Karnataka Health Promotion Trust, and Rotary Club Queens Necklace," he adds.
Going forward, the couple wants to keep adding to this, take the number much higher and across India, expand to more cities and make this a nationwide movement, says Dr Raina. "We have already collected 125kgs of medicines but that shouldn't be the ending point," she says. Dr Marcus, adds, "We are creating a channel between people who have to people who need and this same network of people who do good, they can always channelise their energy and efforts to combat another type of disease, a drought or flood situation, etc."