On CIC directive health ministry to make public details of all Covid-19 treatment facilities across states

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PTI | Jun 16, 2020, 21:43 IST

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NEW DELHI: Following the directions of the Central Information Commission, ministry of health and family welfare (MoH&FW) has designated a nodal officer to compile, collate and consolidate the information regarding designated Covid-19 treatment facilities and related information from across the country and upload the same on its website.
The CIC on June 5 said in its order that the information should be made available and uploaded in the public domain within 15 days from the receipt of the decision. The CIC order came in response to a complaint by activist Venkatesh Nayak who had filed an application under the Right to Information Act in April.
The MoH&FW has issued an order nominating deputy secretary and appellate authority, Saranga Dhar Nayak as nodal officer on behalf of the ministry. He has been directed to consolidate and upload the information on the website within the timeframe set out by the CIC.
The complainant through his RTI application filed with the health ministry on April 17 sought information regarding the district-wise details of the hospitals and healthcare facilities designated as COVID-19 treatment centers; criteria for designating them as COVID-19 treatment centers; hospitals and healthcare facilities whose status as COVID 19 treatment centers was withdrawn. When he did not get the necessary information he approached the CIC.
In the order dated June 5, Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka observed that very pertinent information pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic situation was sought by the complainant but could not be made available by the concerned authorities. “The fact that the application shuttled from one division of the public authority to another indicates that there is a very urgent requirement for notifying a nodal authority in MoH&FW,” the CIC states in the order.
The CIC has made some strong observations about the importance of data management and the critical role a nodal officer can play in consolidating information. “Sound records management is more important than ever before with governments initiating unprecedented steps to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.” The CIC goes on to assert “there is an immense necessity to evolve a strong, robust and effective documentation mechanism and its continuous updation which will be mutually beneficial not only for the government but also for the scientists, researchers, academicians, historians, law makers, etc for future.”

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