Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday laid the foundation stone for a state-of-the-art kidney hospital, which will be constructed in the island's North-Central Province with Chinese assistance.
The Sri Lankan government said the hospital in Polonnaruwa will provide medical assistance to thousands of patients suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease in the island country.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, President Sirisena said the hospital was a symbol of strong friendship between China and Sri Lanka.
"Sri Lanka and China have been friends since ancient times. This year marks the 60th anniversary of our bilateral relations and within these past 60 years, China has always helped Sri Lanka's development program," Sirisena said.
He said the hospital would help the Sri Lankan people especially the patients who were suffering from kidney diseases to get medical help.
Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the kidney hospital would be the first of its kind to be constructed in Sri Lanka, and would immensely help strengthen the health sector of the country.
Senaratne added many Sri Lankans, especially farmers, were suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease in several districts and steps had been taken to ban harmful fertilizers and import more dialysis machines for the patients.
Chinese Ambassador Yi Xianliang said the hospital was being built following consultations between the leaders of both countries as kidney disease had become a major issue of concern in the island country.
The ambassador said China had assisted many rural schools and would do more to help strengthen other sectors.
The Polonaruwa Kidney Hospital, located close to the Polonnaruwa General Hospital, will serve not only the kidney patients in the North-Central Province, but also all kidney patients in the country.
The hospital includes kidney transplant surgeries, blood dialysis services, clinical service, laboratory service and counselling service.
It consists of a Basic Treatment Unit, Out Patients' Department, Wards with 200 beds to treat residential patients, 100 blood dialysis beds, surgeries with modern technology, two Intensive Care Units and a blood bank.
Around 6,500 kidney patients from the Polonnaruwa district and another 13,000 kidney patients from the Anuradhapura district undergo dialysis or require facilities for dialysis.