In our country, a number of patients are brought to the hospital too late, almost at the last desperate hour when disease has become incurable or spread too much to be controlled. Majority of such patients get to that stage because their disease had never been properly diagnosed nor treatment offered in time. Some kind of cancer are curable but only if diagnosed in time and properly treated. Once a disease becomes chronic, it is untreatable. Poverty, of course, is one factor in delay in diagnosis and treatment. And the Hakeems and homeopathic 'doctors' often consulted by the poor due to reasons of affordability are often the main reason for diseases getting to be fatally bad. Even in big cities, you see advertisements by the roadsides and wall-chalking proclaiming various homeopathic doctors and Hakeems to be the last messiah that can cure every disease on the planet including cancer, kidney failure or even the heart disease. They play with the lives of humans blithely claiming the MBBS doctors know nothing. Our government has given open licenses to hundreds of homeopathic medical colleges who are virtually selling doctors' degrees for peanuts . The standard of education of these homeopathic colleges, as you would imagine, is very low. The government has set no standards and there is no monitoring of their standards by the health department either. Perhaps we should consider banning homeopathic education altogether?-SALAH-UD-DIN, Lahore, January 15.