Tuesday October 15, 2019

Tanzania Denies Withholding Information from WHO on Suspected Cases of Ebola

This is not a disease that the Tanzanian government can hide, Tanzania health minister Ummy Mwalimu

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Tanzania, Information, WHO
FILE - A nurse prepares a vaccine against Ebola in Goma, DRC, Aug. 7, 2019. VOA

Tanzania denied Thursday it was withholding information from the World Health Organization (WHO) on suspected cases of Ebola, saying it was not hiding any outbreak of the deadly disease in the country.

“Ebola is known as a fast-spreading disease, whose impact can be felt globally. This is not a disease that the Tanzanian government can hide,” Tanzania health minister Ummy Mwalimu told journalists in commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

“Reports suggesting that Tanzania has not been transparent about suspected cases of Ebola and is not sharing information with the WHO are false and should be ignored.”

Last month WHO said Tanzania had refused to provide detailed information on suspected Ebola cases.

Tanzania, Information, WHO
Map of Tanzania showing cities and a refugee camp. VOA

Travel advisories

The organization said it was made aware Sept. 10 of the death of a patient in Dar es Salaam, and was unofficially told the next day the person had tested positive for Ebola.

This week the United States and Britain issued travel advisories to their citizens against Tanzania amid persisting Ebola concerns.

Days before WHO’s rebuke of Tanzanian authorities, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traveled to the country at the direction of U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar, who had also criticized the country for not sharing information.

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Mwalimu said Tanzania has investigated 28 suspected cases of Ebola over the past year, including two cases in September, but they all tested negative.

She said they had shared that information with WHO.

“We are committed to implement international health regulations in a transparent manner,” Mwalimu said.

High alert for Ebola

Tanzania, Information, WHO
Ebola is known as a fast-spreading disease, whose impact can be felt globally. Pixabay

Authorities in east and central Africa have been on high alert for possible spillovers of Ebola from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a yearlong outbreak has killed more than 2,100 people.

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Tanzania and DRC share a border that is separated by a lake. (VOA)

Next Story

More than 2 Lakh Appeals and Complaints Pending in Information Commissions

The largest number of complaints were pending from Uttar Pradesh with 52,326 cases followed by Maharashtra (45,796 cases)

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Appeals, Complaints, Information
As per the report, a total number of 2,18,347 appeals and complaints were pending for disposal across 26 information commissions of the country till March 31, 2019. Pixabay

A report on the performance of various information commissions across the country has revealed that more than 2 lakh appeals and complaints are pending for disposal at various stages.

Using data on the backlog of appeals and complaints and their monthly disposal rates, the report further highlights that Andhra Pradesh has the longest estimated waiting period of 18 years for disposal of cases.

The report has been compiled by Satark Nagrik Sangathan, a citizens’ group working to promote transparency and accountability in the government.

As per the report, a total number of 2,18,347 appeals and complaints were pending for disposal across 26 information commissions of the country till March 31, 2019.

Appeals, Complaints, Information
Using data on the backlog of appeals and complaints and their monthly disposal rates, the report further highlights that Andhra Pradesh has the longest estimated waiting period of 18 years for disposal of cases. Pixabay

The largest number of complaints were pending from Uttar Pradesh with 52,326 cases followed by Maharashtra (45,796 cases) and the Central Information Commission (29,995 cases).

The report titled ‘Report Cards of Information Commissions 2018-19’ was released to coincide with the 14th anniversary of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 on Saturday.

“The comparative data for these three commissions show that the number of cases pending increased by 20 per cent between March 31, 2018 and March 31, 2019. The information commissions of Bihar, Karnataka and Uttarakhand did not provide requisite information on the backlog of appeals and complaints under the RTI Act. The information was also not available on their websites,” states the report.

As part of the assessment procedure, though a total of 129 RTI applications were filed seeking identical information from all the 29 information commissions, only 12 out of them provided full information in response to the queries.

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The report is primarily based on an analysis of information accessed under the RTI Act from the 29 information commissions. A total of 129 RTI applications were filed with 29 state information commissions (SIC) and the Central Information Commission (CIC).

“The experience in India, also captured in various national assessments on the implementation of the RTI Act, suggests that the functioning of information commissions is a major bottleneck in the effective implementation of the RTI law,” states the report.

As per the report, West Bengal (7 years and 5 months) and Odisha (4 years and 3 months) followed Andhra Pradesh in average waiting period for disposal of cases.

Appeals, Complaints, Information
The report has been compiled by Satark Nagrik Sangathan, a citizens’ group working to promote transparency and accountability in the government. Pixabay

The assessment found that several information commissions were either non-functional or functioning with reduced capacities.

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Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan were functioning without a Chief State Information Commissioner. The Central Information Commission in December 2018 was functioning with just three information commissioners even as eight posts, including that of the chief, were vacant, states the report. (IANS)