Thursday, 4 February 2016

MPs should do their research

In International Development questions in the House yesterday, Mary Creagh revealed that she does not listen to Radio 4. She is also clearly unaware that Zika is a forest in Uganda.

Mary Creagh (Wakefield) (Lab): The Zika virus crossed the Pacific and went from French Polynesia to Brazil in May last year. Since then, 4,000 children have been born with microcephaly. What analysis has the Secretary of State made of the risks to the poorest women and girls in the world if the virus crosses the Atlantic from Brazil to sub-Saharan Africa? Will she promise to keep a very close eye on that and use all British scientific knowledge to ensure that it does not happen?

I have complained in the past that not enough MPs are elected who have scientific or technical knowledge. It is also clear that special advisers provide no expertise other than that of handling the media.

The real question is: how far has Africa been affected? Is microcephaly as prevalent as in Brazil and WHO is unaware of this (hard data are presumably patchy) or have Africans acquired immunity over the years?

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