A section of leaders in Jinja District have petitioned the Ministry of Health protesting its move to buy a private hospital and elevate it to a district facility.
The ministry had planned to buy Almeca Private Hospital in Kyamaggwa Village in Mafubira Sub-county, which is owned by Butembe County MP Nelson Lufafa.
The petitioners led by the district NRM secretary, Mr William Kato Kaziba, in a December 2 letter to Health minister Ruth Aceng, say Buwenge General Hospital in Kagoma County currently under construction, should instead be the one turned into the main facility.
"...Honourable Nelson Lufafa sent a request to the President to persuade the Ministry of Health to purchase their hospital and if possible, transform it into a district hospital.
"If that is done, Buwenge General Hospital might not receive the needed funding to complete construction because of the current government policy of one general hospital per district," the letter reads in part.
When contacted, Mr Lufafa said the petition would be dismissed.
"They (petitioners) have nothing to do. If I sign a private-partnership with government to ensure that I advocate for free services to my voters in Butembe, where is the problem?" Mr Lufafa asked.
However, Mr Kaziba said if government buys Almeca, it should not suffocate Buwenge.
The Buwenge Town Council mayor, Mr Hassan Isabirye, said Buwenge hospital's capacity is wider since it serves 18 health centres and receives patients from neighbouring districts such as Kamuli and Luuka.
According to statistics from the district health officer, Buwenge hospital received 8,333 patients while Almeca had only 1,671 from January to September this year.
Buwenge General Hospital started operating two years ago after the construction of an out-patient department, minor theatre, laboratory and pharmacy among others. Upon completion, it is expected to have a 200-bed capacity. In 2013, the government borrowed a loan from the World Bank to construct, renovate and equip certain hospitals and health centres, including Buwenge General Hospital.