THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The devastating floods the state had experienced in August last year continue to attract global attention. In the latest, Harvard University has expressed its interest in studying the impact of the floods on the health and livelihoods of the people in the state.
Interestingly, the team that will carry out the said study will also have the presence of IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman, who had taken a sabbatical and had joined Harvard University for doing a master's course in public health.
"It will be François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University (Harvard FXB) which will carry out the aforementioned study," said Sekhar L Kuriakose, member secretary, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority.
According to him, for the said study Harvard FXB will collaborate with the State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) and as the study is of public health importance, the findings of the same will be shared with the state government. At the same time, it is learnt a team from Harvard will arrive at the state on Friday for handling a two-day training session in which it will provide classes to SEOC and Health Department authorities for carrying out the study.
It was in December Satchit Balsari, assistant professor, Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School, FXB Centre for Health and Human Rights, wrote to the state government expressing its wish to carry out a study on the impact of floods had on the health and livelihoods of the people in the state. When asked about this with Dr V Meenakshy, ADHS (Public Health) he told Express, "A preliminary discussion in this regard has already been completed. While SEOC will coordinate the said study, Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies will work along with Harvard FXB."
She further said while the initial plan is to limit the flood impact study to Idukki and Ernakulam districts, the epidemiological study of leptospirosis during the floods will be carried out across the state. Harvard FXB is an interdisciplinary centre carrying out research on the most serious threats to health and wellbeing globally.
The study being planned by the centre likely falls under its Disaster Resilience and Response Programme which closely monitors Asia's vulnerability to earthquakes, typhoons and major floods. The Post Disaster Needs Assessment Floods and Landslides carried out jointly by the state government, KSDMA, the United Nations agencies, the European Commission, European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and others had assessed the total damage at Rs 499 crore to the health and nutrition sector.
The document also reminds that there is a need to focus on the long-term psycho-social needs of survivors, including vulnerable groups such as the elderly, individuals with chronic ailments, the mentally ill, persons with disabilities in the affected districts.