The Ministry of Health (MOH) has set up a Right to Information (RTI) Unit at its Office in Accra to enhance access to information by the public.
At a ceremony in Accra Friday to formally inaugurate the Unit, the MOH also launched Information Manual to serve as a guideline for applicants.
The move is in compliance with Section 3 of the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989), which enjoins all public institutions to set up RTI units to facilitate access to information by the public.
The law also directs public institutions to compile up-to-date Information Manual every year.
The manual, according to the law, must contain among others a list of departments or agencies under that public institution; the various classes on information prepared by or under the control of the institution, and the types of information that may be accessed or inspected free of charge or subject to a fee.
The MOH is the first public institution to set up an RTI Unit since the implementation of Act 989 in 2020.
Ms Tina Mensah, a Deputy Minister of Health, said the establishment of the RTI Unit was “a turning point” in the RTI development at the Ministry.
She said access to information was a fundamental human right, adding that information “is very expensive and vital.”
“Gone are the days when access to information was very difficult. Now, there is a beautiful dawn that has given light to access information,” Ms Mensah said.
Mr Stephen Owusu, the Head of Legal, Governance, Regulatory, and Research at the RTI Commission, applauded the MOH for becoming the first public institution to set up an RTI Unit and urged other institutions to take a queue.
He said access to information was a key component of democracy and that the 1992 Constitution guaranteed every citizen the right to access information.
Mr Owusu said under Act 989, applicants were not mandated to state the reason for applying for a particular information unless that information is exempt.
“The only time the institution can demand for reasons is when the applicant says the information is urgently needed,” he said.
Dr Winnifred Nafisa Mahama, Head, Access to Information Division, Information Services Department, urged the MOH to publish the Information Manual and make copies available at its website for easy accessibility.
She also appealed to all information officers and heads of units to abide by the principles of proactiveness and serve the applicants with all diligence and timeliness.