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Ghani lays groundwork for Saudi-funded hospital

Saudi Arabia, July 2, 2018

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday laid the foundation of a 1,000-bed hospital complex which is partly sponsored by Saudi Arabia in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
The mega-project — the first of its kind in the country’s history — will be completed in two years, and will offer treatment to patients with disabilities and those suffering from tuberculosis.
The $200 million hospital complex will also include a maternity center.
“Various donors cover the cost of the complex. Saudi Arabia pays for the maternity section, which has 200 beds,” Dr. Najibullah Kamawal, head of the public health department of Jalalabad city, told Arab News after the inauguration of the complex.
Kamawal said the Kingdom’s role in building part of the complex was its first major help to the Ghani administration, which is seeking to establish closer ties with the Gulf nations.
Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the province’s governor, said the completion of the complex will drastically reduce the need for Afghans to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Afghans annually spend over $300 million on medical treatment, mostly in India, according to officials.
Hours after Ghani’s visit to Jalalabad, a suicide bomber killed several people outside the governor’s office in the heart of the city.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Earlier in the day, Ghani met with government officials in the governor’s office. It was not clear if the attack was linked with his visit.