Owner of “Obengfo” Hospital files court action to compel HeFRA to restore operational licence

The owner of the Obengfo Hospital, Dr Dominic Obeng Andoh, is praying the high court to compel HeFRA to renew his operational licence

The owner of the beleaguered Obengfo medical facility, Dominic Obeng Andoh, has launched an action at the high court, praying the court to compel the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency (HeFRA) to renew an operational licence to allow him to resume medical practice.

HeFRA shut down the Obengfo Hospital, located in Weija, Accra, and known for its “Advanced Body Sculpt” services, on 29 January 2021 for operating without the requisite licence. A team led by the Registrar of HeFRA, Philip Bannor, explained that the closure of the Obengfo Hospital was in line with an enforcement exercise being conducted by the agency.

HeFRA justified the shutdown by citing the Health Institutions and Facilities Act 2011 (Act 829), which established the agency and empowers it to shut down any health facility not licensed by it, or which does not meet standards established by Act 829.

Obengfo’s contention

In his affidavit in support of his application, filed by his lawyer, Emmanuel Maurice Ankrah, the Obengfo Hospital owner, Dr Dominic Obeng Andoh, contends that there is no reasonable justification at present for HeFRA’s continued refusal to renew his licence, because he has met all laid-down requirements. The continuous closure of his facility, Dr Obeng Andoh states, is causing him to lose revenue, while he continues to pay salaries to his employees.

“I am advised by counsel and verily believe same to be true, it will be in the interest of justice and fairness for this honourable court to grant my application. That in the circumstance, I pray for an order of mandamus to compel HeFRA (respondent) to include my name on the list of registered medical and dental practitioners in Ghana,” the affidavit in support states.

In his statement of case, Dr Obeng Andoh further argues in the concluding part that HeFRA “acted capriciously and unreasonably by entering the facility of the Obengfo Hospital with armed policemen and more than 50 journalists while patients were undergoing treatment and knowing very well the efforts he had been making since 2013 to renew his licence”.

HeFRA opposition

In their affidavit in opposition to the claims by the owner of the Obengfo Hospital, filed by their lead counsel, Ebenezer Yaw Gyamerah, HeFRA, acting through its head of administration, Dr David K Kwamifoli (the deponent), notes that the exercise undertaken to close the Obengfo Hospital was carried out in accordance with the law and has been used for many other such facilities that HeFRA has not duly licensed to operate.

“The first applicant (Obengfo Hospital), was part of the exercise because it persistently refused to progress with the licensing process and yet continued to operate illegally,” the affidavit in opposition says.

According to HeFRA, Section 12(2) of Act 829 stipulates ten mandatory conditions precedent (requirements) that health sector operators must fulfil before their application for a licence to operate a health facility can be considered by HeFRA.

The HeFRA affidavit further states: “Obengfo Hospital failed to satisfy the condition of Section 12(2)(e) and this has been abundantly conveyed to the second applicant (Dr Dominic Obeng Andoh) to satisfy, who has failed, refused or simply neglected to meet this condition. HeFRA cannot lawfully proceed to issue a licence without the applicants’ satisfaction of this condition precedent.

“Even after full satisfaction of the conditions precedent stipulated in Section 12(2) of Act 829, the law places a discretionary duty on the respondent (HeFRA) to exercise discretion as to whether to grant or refuse the issuance of a licence, especially under Section 12(3)(b) and (d). That I am advised, and verily believe the same to be true, that the respondent agency is acting within the confines of its statutory mandate. That licensing of facilities does not come as of right, especially upon the mere lodging of an application and the payment of fees,” the affidavit in opposition further asserts.

Previous Obengfo challenges

The Obengfo Hospital has been closed down a number of times in the past and the owner of the facility arrested and arraigned.

Dr Obeng-Andoh was arrested in December 2016 over issues of licensing after the Medical and Dental Council (MDC) received complaints of medical complications from individuals who had patronised the facility.

In January 2017, the MDC again closed down the Obengfo Hospital for operating illegally. In 2019 it cautioned the public to desist from patronising services offered by the facility.

Next court hearing

The Criminal High Court, presided over by Justice Elfreda Amy Dankyi, is expected to hear the case and on 16 July 2021 deliver judgment in the suit, which is entitled The Republic vs Health Facilities Regulatory Agency (respondent), ex parte Obengfo Hospital (first applicant) and Dr Dominic Obeng Andoh (second applicant).

Wilberforce Asare

Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online
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