The Federal Government, under direction from the Prime Minister, has decided to set up 46 new hospitals in the country. Keeping in view the priorities of the PML-N regarding their priority to construct roads, bridges, and transport infrastructure, as compared to the low budgetary allocation to health and education, it should be a welcome step. 

The health related issues in Pakistan demand much more than constructing new hospitals. The main problem with the health sector is not the dearth of hospitals but the absence of essential health facilities inside them. District Headquarter Hospital (DHQ) are already present in almost every district of the country combined with Tehsil Headquarter Hospitals, besides Rural Health Centres in rural areas. But all these health care centres hardly possess the essential heath care facilities that are required for the treatment of secondary and tertiary diseases. Many of these hospitals lack medical laboratories, expert doctors, and medical equipment like x-ray machines, ventilators, lithotripters, dialysis machines, etc. 

The Federal Government will do well if it diverts the funds allocated for construction of new hospitals to the already existing hospitals in the country for their uplift to cater to the needs of the patients. New blocks for the treatment of secondary and tertiary heath care should be constructed in these hospitals to prevent the patients from being forced to travel to bigger cities for medical treatment. Similarly, new labs and essential health care medical equipments with expertise should be provided to them. It will definitely lessen the burden on the hospitals in big cities providing these facilities to a great extent. Thus, a policy of consolidation regarding the existing health facilities should be adopted rather than merely expanding the heath facilities that are in shambles. 

M. SAYYAD ALAM KHAN, 

Peshawar, September 13.