A good beginning:

Bihari Krishna Shrestha is not wrong in criticising the recent government decision to provide free In-Patient Department (IPD) services to the poor in his article “Health for poor” (THT, Dec 28).

But Shrestha fails to connect the government decision to his write- up. The author correctly states that the majority of the poor do not have access to healthcare facilities. Good health services could be made available outside the Valley only by strengthening healthcare facilities at the district hospitals. But good infrastructure alone will be useless without doctors, drugs and paramedics. At present, our district hospitals have no better facilities than health posts. While the contribution of community health workers in delivering basic healthcare services cannot be ignored, they can do little in the absence of a strong referral centre at district headquarters. All this calls for creating a favourable environment for them to work in the rural setting. Prevention should receive equal priority as it is always better than cure. Overall, the government decision is a step in right direction but much depends upon its implementation.

Dr Ujjwal Raj Chalise, via e-mail

Hypocrisy:

Saddam Hussein’s hanging under US-sponsored justice came as a great shock to the whole world. This inhumane act is in clear violation of the UN human rights charter and it has proved that the supreme law is not in the hands of legitimate international bodies but in the hands of the world’s only superpower. Iraq is not the only place where the US has meddled.

In Nepal, for instance, even as the political parties recognised the legitimate claims of the Maoists, the US was backing King Gyanendra in his bid to suppress the Maoists. If Saddam was a tyrant who deserved no less than death, what about Pakistani General Parvez Mussarraf and other brutal dictators with whom the US has had close ties? The lesson is clear: Whoever does America’s bidding is its friend and naysayers will face its wrath. For years the US and Saddam’s Iraq had had a cooperative relationship. Hussein’s death again makes the absence of a bipolar world felt. The US would not have been able to act so wantonly if the USSR had not broken up in 1989. Isn’t it hypocrisy that while the US preaches the rule of law and democracy, it is also a brutal suppression of human rights, as evidenced by Hussein’s death sentence and reports of US torture of prisoners? How can the US administration justify the killings of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis since its invasion of Iraq? Shouldn’t Bush be brought to justice as well?

Arjun Karki, Koteswor

Correction:

It’s nice to hear about Girija Prasad Koirala’s unhappiness about the absolute power vested in the PM in the interim constitution. If he is really serious about curtailing the prime minister’s powers, Koirala should immediately set up a high-level taskforce consisting of the representatives of the eight parties, constitutional lawyers, civil society leaders, and student leaders to suggest within 15 days possible amendments to the interim statute. Koirala also needs to respect public opinion by rectifying his decision to appoint ambassadors to 14 world capitals.

Ramesh B Shrestha, Lalitpur