The Right to Information law is being tested a second time as private legal practitioner, Akoto Ampaw has requested for information on the country’s preparedness for a possible novel coronavirus outbreak.
In a request addressed to the Information Officers of the Ghana Health Service and the Health Ministry or in the absence the respective heads of those institutions, Mr Ampaw expressed worry that Ghanaians are not being adequately informed on the Covid-19.
“As a citizen of Ghana, I am deeply disturbed about the structure (if any) our state authorities have established to inform Ghanaians on a regular basis on the preparations that our health care system is taking to deal with this menace, the content of public information on these preparations, the paucity of information to the public on what self-help measures members of the public should be taking to avoid or minimize contracting the virus,” said Ampaw.
Among others, he wants to know whether “a centralized structure been established by the government to tackle the Covid-19 virus threat?”
“If so, what agencies constitute this structure and how regularly do these agencies meet?”
He also wants to know “what specific measures are in place at the various points of entry into Ghana i.e. international airport, seaports and land ports (considering that Nigeria has recorded a case)?”
“How do we intend to quarantine suspected cases at the ports of entry?”
Mr Ampaw specified that he is requesting the information pursuant to Article 21(f) of the 1992 Constitution and the RTI Act 2019.
The law, passed last year after two decades is expected to make access to information from public officials easier for citizens.
However, the first test case for the law more or less hit rocks after the Electoral Commission (EC) declined to release some procurement information to Ashaiman MP, Henry Norgbey.
The EC said fees chargeable for the MP’s request have not been determined by parliament, hence it cannot release the information despite, its willingness.
The Parliamentarian has, however, vowed to challenge the EC’s decision in court.
Read Ampaw’s full request below
Application for Information under Article 21 (1) (f) and Section 18 of the Right to Information Act, 2019, (Act 989)
The Coronavirus, Covid -19, is now threatening to develop into a pandemic. The virus has spread to some seventy-four (74) countries, including China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, Germany, France, United Arab Emirates, USA, France, Britain, Egypt, Tunisia and Nigeria The World Health Organisation has declared the virus “a global public health emergency” and warned that, if the world fails to take effective action to control its spread, it could become a pandemic. The virus has, in addition to its obvious threat to the health of populations, had an equally damaging impact on the world economy.
As a citizen of Ghana, I am deeply disturbed about the structure (if any) our state authorities have established to inform Ghanaians on a regular basis on the preparations that our health care system is taking to deal with this menace, the content of public information on these preparations, the paucity of information to the public on what self-help measures members of the public should be taking to avoid or minimize contracting the virus.
While the health and other relevant authorities in other countries, with far more robust health care systems, provide daily information to their citizens on the virus, are imposing bans on air travel to and from specified countries where the virus has broken out in, while others are banning large gatherings and cancelling events likely to involve large crowds, in Ghana there does not appear to be the same degree of urgency in our response to the threat the disease poses to our health and economy.
I have therefore found it necessary to exercise my right to information guaranteed under the Constitution and the Right to Information Act, 2019, (Act 989) to seek answers to the following questions which I pose to the information officers at Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health, or if no such officers exist, then to the Director General of the Ghana Health Service and the Minister of Health. I would appreciate it if the answer to this application could be in writing to me either by e-mail or through my postal address provided below:
QUESTIONS ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS COVID-19
Has a centralized structure been established by the government to tackle the Covid-19 virus threat?
If so, what agencies constitute this structure and how regularly do these agencies meet?
INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC
CASE DETECTION AND MANAGEMENT
EFFECT OF VIRUS ON HEALTHCARE
House No. 3, Oshippi Street, North Kaneshie, Accra.
P. O. Box 207, Accra.