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 the construction of roads/transport infrastructure and bridges and low budgetary allocation to health and education, it should be a welcome step. 

The health related issues in Pakistan are 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 in them. There is already a District Headquarter Hospital (DHQ) 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 healthcare 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 healthcare should be constructed in these hospitals to prevent the patients for traveling to big cities for treatment. Similarly, new labs and essential medical equipment with expertise should be provided to them. It will largely lessen the burden on the hospitals in big cities providing these facilities. Thus, a policy of consolidation the existing health facilities should be adopted rather than merely expansion of the heath facilities that are already in shambles. 

M. SAYYAD ALAM KHAN,  

Peshawar, September 13.