News in Brief 29 February 2016 (PM)

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A female Aedes Aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from her human host. Photo: CDC/James Gathany

Experts to address Zika knowledge gaps 

Researchers from around the world will be meeting this week to identify gaps in scientific knowledge about the Zika virus.

The experts will look at the virus’s impact on humans and its implications for public health in the Americas region.

The Zika virus is primarily spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and has been linked to birth defects in newborns, mainly in Central and South America.

The two-day meeting opens Tuesday at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington, D.C.

Participants will hold a media briefing following the conclusion.

Women and girls critical to disaster reduction

More women than men died in the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami because they were less likely to know how to swim, plus long clothing impeded their movement.

That was the message from Elena Manaenkova, Assistant Secretary-General at the World Meteorological Organization, speaking in Geneva to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The human rights body held a special session on Monday looking at disasters and climate change.

Robert Glasser, head of the UN’s disaster risk office, said empowering women and girls is a “critical ingredient” in building resilience to storms, floods and other hazards.

He said women and girls are more likely to be affected when disasters strike due to socio-economic conditions, cultural beliefs and traditional practices.

The UN official called for addressing the gender gap in areas such as decision making, resource management, and access to social protection.

Asia-Pacific overlooking benefits of migration 

Although migrants from Asia and the Pacific play a key role in development at home and abroad, the region is not fully acknowledging the benefits of migration.

That’s according to a UN report which says more than 95 million people from Asia-Pacific are living outside the country of their birth.

The region is also hosting nearly 60 million migrants.

Most of these people are temporary workers, according to the study.

The report says through their hard work and the money that they send home, migrants help drive growth in the countries where they reside while also playing a part in the development of their homelands.

It calls for action to ensure that migration is safe, orderly and responsible.

The report also offers guidance on how countries can ensure migrants have access to social protection and decent work.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.