A trust in Pakistan named after Turkey's president inked a deal on Saturday with the country's largest province, Punjab, to run major hospitals in its capital Lahore.
The Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital Trust will also take over the management of two major blood transfusion centres in the Multan and Bahawalpur districts under the agreement, signed between the two sides in Lahore.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif – a younger brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – attended the signing ceremony.
The Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital Trust in the Muzaffargarh district, located some 380 kilometers (236 miles) from Lahore, was given as a gift by Turkey to Pakistan around three years ago. It began its operations in July 2014 with 60 beds, and added 40 a year later.
The Punjab government in January announced the addition of 400 beds to the hospital's incumbent capacity at a cost of 9 billion rupees (nearly $90 million). The hospital provides free healthcare to all patients irrespective of their backgrounds.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Shehbaz Sharif hailed the agreement as a step forward in ongoing cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan to improve the healthcare system.
"I congratulate the [Punjab] health department and the Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital Trust for signing this agreement. This is a significant development wit h a view to improving the healthcare system in the province," he said.
Under the agreement, the trust will run the four newly-constructed hospitals on the outskirts of Lahore, while the management of two blood transfusion centers is also being handed over to the trust to provide better blood transfusion facilities to the needy people of the province, said Sharif.
"The only purpose behind handing over the hospitals' management to the Erdogan Trust is service to humanity," he added.