Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 22 (IANS): Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has suggested that the Kerala government request the World Health Organisation (WHO) to supply two million anti-cholera vaccines to minimise the risk of water-borne diseases in the flood-ravaged state.
Tharoor, an MP from Thiruvananthapuram and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, has made the suggestion following his discussions in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday with senior leadership of the WHO, UN and the International Red Cross, an official statement from his office said on Wednesday.
He briefed them on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Kerala, the worst since 1924. The floods claimed around 370 lives and inundated houses forcing about one million people to take shelter in over 3,000 relief camps.
“Prior to these discussions, Tharoor consulted Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the nature of the talks and the specific areas of priority,” it said.
“Tharoor has also written to him (Vijayan) today on the impressions gained from his briefings and the possible course of actions for the state.”
Tharoor has asked the state government to examine whether it wants a multi-sector needs assessment by UN agencies and Gujarat University Forensics support for dead body management. The state should also consider holding an international reconstruction conference to “Rebuild Kerala better” in partnership with the UN.
“Since the Centre does not wish to request (for) international assistance directly, it is entirely feasible to operationalise any and all of the above by negotiating with the UN system to have the UN offer what we need, on a no-objection basis from the (central) government,” the statement quoted the Congress leader as saying.
According to the statement, the discussions and deliberations were well received by respective branches of the international system focused on responding to health emergencies, disaster management and mitigation.
“Tharoor travelled in his individual capacity and as an MP from Kerala and as a former UN Under-Secretary-General. This reach was primarily due to a moral responsibility he felt as a Keralite to explore possibilities of international assistance and support to alleviate the sufferings of fellow Keralites,” the statement added.
Tharoor has also briefed the Indian Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Rajiv Chander, about his meetings.