The serious inconsistencies in the health department call for reforms on a war-footing. Currently, there are two types of hospitals functioning in Pakistan: private and government.

The former, equipped with modern facilities, charge fees that are beyond the means of a majority of people in our country, and the latter lack expertise to tackle serious diseases.

There is an urgent need to have a positive check on private hospitals and improve the standards of government hospitals. The establishment of the office of health ombudsman, as suggested by the writer, may prove to be an extraordinary step towards maintaining a strong check on private hospitals, whereas the improvement of standards of government hospitals can be achieved by allocating a respectable amount in the budget for the health sector and seeking foreign help meant only for this important sector.

As a matter of fact, in a country like ours, where a major chunk of the population lives below the poverty line, serious reforms in government hospitals are indispensable to render free quality services to the already downtrodden masses. Once the quality of our state hospitals is improved, the soaring charges of the private hospitals will automatically come down. Moreover, the healthy competition between government and private hospitals will take the standards to new heights.

The brain drain of highly skilled doctors should be put under strict check. Further, international training programmes of doctors should be initiated to keep our doctors abreast of modern technology and equipment used in the field of medicine. Simultaneously, every necessary step should be taken to get these trained doctors back in Pakistan to serve the nation. Furthermore, a mechanism should be introduced in government hospitals to monitor the activities of doctors. Any doctor found guilty of not performing his duties earnestly should be dealt with sternly. The proposed recommendations for the government hospitals will surely relieve the stress of millions in Pakistan.

SHUMAILA USMAN,

Karachi, August 19.