Lockdown: Man travels 150 km to deliver Hepatitis-B medicine in Bengal

Saumitra Maur, a relative and neighbour of the patient, Purnima Maur, said he contacted a ham radio club in desperation after all efforts to buy the medicines in the locality proved futile

shortage of medicines, Hepatitis-B, life-saving drugs, Anti-HIV drugs, coronavirus, COVID-19, Lockdown
Pharmacies and hospitals remain open for business during the nationwide lockdown enforced to control the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: iStock

Complaints about shortage of medicines in local pharmacies due to the coronavirus pandemic have emerged from across the country but there are still few good samaritans to rescue those struck in this anxious situation.

In a remote village of West Midnapore district, Kolkata, a patient of Hepatitis-B and her family were relieved to receive a month’s stock of critical medicines from a volunteer who travelled over 150 km to deliver drugs amid the ongoing lockdown.

Saumitra Maur, a relative and neighbour of the patient, Purnima Maur, said he contacted a ham radio club in desperation after all efforts to buy the medicines in the locality proved futile.

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Purnima and her family, residents of Mangrul village at Chandrakona in West Midnapore district, were at a loss as to how they would get the medicine with only a few days’ stocks left.

Related news: Is shortage of anti-HIV drugs during lockdown as common as it looks?

“I had learnt of West Bengal Radio Club from a friend and contacted it to see if they could help after all other recourse failed,” Saumitra, himself a pharmacy student, told PTI over the phone.

He said that the doctor had prescribed Purnima Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate tablets for a one-year course and that the stocks got depleted to just a few tablets as it could not be found in any local chemist shop and travelling to far-off towns was difficult owing to the lockdown.

Saumitra said that they were assured assistance after he told the clubs secretary Ambarish Nag Biswas about the urgent need for the medicine.

“We were informed of the requirement of the particular medicine for a critical patient suffering from Hepatitis-B on Monday and after an extensive search, found that it was available with Sonarpur Liver Foundation in South 24 Parganasdistrict,” Biswas, the founder secretary of the West BengalRadio Club, said.

The medicine was delivered to the patient’s home on Tuesday evening, Biswas said.

“Our member Souparna Sen, collected the medicine from the Liver Foundation on Tuesday morning and drove over 150 km to the village in Chandrakona to deliver it to Purnima Maurshome,” he said.

Related news: No reports of medicine shortage in wake of coronavirus outbreak: FM

Saumitra said that a month’s stock was handed over by Sen.

“We have been asked to call again if the COVID-19-related lockdown persists for long and we cannot buy the medicine in our locality,” he said.

Earlier this month, patients suffering from immuno-deficiency syndromes complained about not being able to buy life-saving drugs due to a shortage in supply after a combination these medicines were used to treat an elderly COVID-19 positive couple in Jaipur.

A combination of Lopinavir-Ritonavir was on March 17 recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for treating coronavirus positive people belonging to the high-risk groups of patients aged above 60, who are suffering from diabetes mellitus, renal failure, chronic lung disease and are immuno-compromised.

(With inputs from agencies)

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