Private legal practitioner, Mr Anthony Akoto Ampaw, has activated the Right to Information Act by requesting the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to provide him with answers on the Coronavirus, Covid-19.
Providing background to his request in a letter dated March 5, 2020, Mr Ampaw said while the health and other relevant authorities in other countries, with far more robust healthcare systems, provided daily information to their citizens on the virus, imposing bans on air travel to and from specified countries where the virus had broken out, with others 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.”
He said he had, therefore, found it necessary to exercise his right to information guaranteed under the Constitution and the Right to Information Act, 2019, (Act 989) to seek answers to his questions.
The answers, he said, could be in writing to him either by e-mail or through his postal address.
Mr Ampaw said the virus had spread to about 74 countries, including China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, Germany, France, United Arab Emirates, USA, France, Britain, Egypt, Tunisia and Nigeria.
He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the virus “a global public health emergency,” and warned that, if the world failed to take effective action to control its spread, it could become a pandemic.
“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 healthcare 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 minimise contracting the virus,” he said.
Among other questions, Mr Ampaw wants to know if a centralised structure had been established by the government to tackle the Covid-19 virus threat and if so, which agencies constituted that structure and how regularly those agencies met.
He further wants to know the official channels of communication to the general public on the COVID-19 situation and how the population were updated on the situation of infected countries to allow information to the travelling public.
Mr Ampaw wants to know what specific measures were in place at the various points of entry into Ghana i.e. international airport, sea ports and land ports (considering that Nigeria has recorded a case; how Ghana intended to quarantine suspected cases at the ports of entry and which authority was vested with the power to recommend travel bans to countries severely affected, such as China, South Korea, Iran, Japan and Italy.
He is seeking information on whether Ghana had enough medical laboratories for testing for the virus in samples taken from suspected persons; how many test kit the country currently had; the steps being taken to acquire more of such kit; what plans were in place to transport samples to testing centres for confirmation and whether Ghana had enough personal protective equipment (PPEs) in hospitals and clinics for medical personnel to attend to suspected cases, and how many and how were the PPEs distributed across the country.
“Have medical personnel been adequately trained in taking these samples and treating patients? When was the training done nationwide? Do our hospitals and clinics have the right procedures to prevent and control infections? he asked in his letter?