Deal with abuse of personal information

BY: Daily Graphic
Deal with abuse of personal information

Confidentiality is very important in the context of employee/employer relationships, especially relating to business information. The need to keep very essential information under wraps is very vital, as its disclosure, when it lands in the wrong hands, can be misused to commit an illegal activity, such as discrimination or even fraud.

The disclosure of confidential information can also gravely undermine national security. For businesses, the disclosure of sensitive information can result in costly lawsuits to the employer, as well as loss of employee trust and loyalty.

For this reason, in many countries and professions there are laws that regulate the disclosure or otherwise of vital information about the organisation and its clientele.

The legal and medical professions come readily to mind as some of the vocations where disclosure of information on clients is strictly controlled. Even in circumstances where it may be necessary for a professional to disclose confidential information, such as to prevent serious harm to other people, that person needs to consider whether it is in the public interest to disclose such information and the one must seek the necessary support and clearance, as required.

But it is common in this country to usually read or hear delicate information from very strategic government institutions and businesses in the public domain. More worrying is when sensitive security material that puts the whole country in danger finds itself in the public domain.

Ghana News Headlines

For latest news in Ghana, visit Graphic Online news headlines page Ghana news page

Unfortunately, this upsetting issue is seen in the medical field, a very respected profession, where the identity of patients suffering from illnesses known only to themselves and their medical doctors, laboratory technicians or other health professionals has been disclosed to third parties.

This has led to serious effects on the sufferers, who have perpetually lost trust in our health sector. This is a very grave issue because the practice has a very good but unfortunate chance of increasing the disease burden, which can have dire consequences for the country, as people who suffer from illnesses that threaten their existence would prefer keeping their condition secret, with the likelihood of spreading those diseases.

It is thus not for nothing that all around the world health professionals always have the ethical and legal duty to respect and protect the confidentiality of service users. But for some of these professionals, their habit is to narrate and divulge minute details in the laboratories, consulting rooms, labour wards, theatres, mortuaries and other places in health facilities at will.

Ghana has recently witnessed even the dead in bad shape at mortuaries whose privacy has been invaded and pictures of them taken and distributed on social media. Such abhorrence!

It is in this vein that the Daily Graphic sees as appropriate the warning by the Chief Executive Officer of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital to health professionals against disclosing the ailment of patients to third parties.

We add our voice to the warning and admonish health professionals that the practice is unethical and the legal implications can be very dire for themselves and their institutions. The consequences can even be dreadful for the entire economy when the erring professional is in the public sector.

We suggest to the Health Ministry, the Ghana Medical Association, the Nurses and Midwives Association of Ghana, other health professional associations, bodies and institutions to take the admonition seriously and take steps to educate their members to refrain from the practice for their own good and that of the entire nation.