Joy News' Seth Kwame Boateng has highlighted the importance of data in holding public officials accountable and saving lives of citizens.

The multiple award-winning journalist with the Multimedia Group, says data has aided his work greatly and it is disheartening how some public officials shield it from those they serve.

“It is sad that in this era, it is still difficult for many in authority to open up and allow their data to be used,” he told a gathering at the 2018 Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data festival in the UK.

The conference dubbed 'Data for Development Festival' was held to discuss how data can be used to tell compelling stories.

Citing Joy News' documentary ‘Next to Die’, Seth Boateng explained how reliance on data helped to highlight the horrors expectant mothers go through at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital.

It was revealed that at least 90 mothers lost their lives each year from 2012 to 2016 at the hospital while in the process of delivering due to inadequate facilities.

A baby and mother unit complex started by the Ignatius Kutu Acheampong government in the 1980’s had been abandoned by all succeeding governments.

The Multimedia Group, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Mrs Samira Bawumia, first and second ladies respectively of Ghana, joined forces to raise funds to build an entirely new Mother and Baby Unit for the health facility.

Seth also touched on how data has helped in the protection of human rights.

A documentary revealed how many inmates in Ghana Prisons' custody, have not been tried by any courts.

Seth highlighted how that data, when presented to the Chief Justice, helped to trigger an exercise where the inmates were tried and scores of them released.

Emphasizing the need for public office holders to cooperate with journalists and other bodies who need data from them to enhance accountability, Seth said: “it is time we make data available to people who need them to effect change to hold leadership accountable”.

His argument comes in as the countdown given to cabinet to lay the 17-year-old Right to Information bill before parliament draws nigh.

The Right to Information coalition gave a 10-day ultimatum to the government to lay the bill in parliament following President Akufo-Addo’s promise to lay bill before parliament rises.

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