Since its inception, the right to information, even during crises, has always implicitly existed under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides the right to “freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
The outbreak of the coronavirus and the ensuing pandemic have created worldwide anxiety, fear and confusion. These feelings are not misplaced. Tens of millions have been infected while millions have lost their lives across the globe. Jobs have been lost, destabilizing economies and health infrastructure in many countries has become increasingly overstretched. On top of that, the prevalence of fake news on the prevention, spread, and control of COVID-19 has become widespread and has undermined efforts to curb the spread of the disease in Africa.
Timely access to information and timely action on information received can make the difference between life and death for people across Africa and their loved ones.