ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Friday said the healthcare sector was one of his top priorities, and that the government was taking initiatives for the uplift of poorest of the poor patients. Addressing the foundation laying ceremony of the King Hamad University of Nursing and Associated Medical Sciences, the prime minister said in view of the dearth of trained nursing staff in the country, the noble project would help fill gap in healthcare sector. Bahrain National Guard Commander Lieutenant General Sheikh Muhammad bin Essa bin Salman, the brother of Bahrain’s King, was also present. The King Hamad University of Nursing and Associated Medical Sciences in Chak Shehzad will be affiliated with the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland. The premier said nursing care was an area facing major challenges in Pakistan due to neglect in previous years and thus required a serious revamp. He said the project would upgrade the quality of nursing profession and bring it at par with international standards. He expressed gratitude to King of Bahrain Hamad bin Essa al Khalifa for the project, which he said symbolised the bond of friendship between the two countries. The prime minister termed the nursing university another remarkable addition in the annals of Pakistan-Bahrain cooperation. He said the government was committed to upgrading healthcare sector, and mentioned that under the National Health Programme launched in 2015, 50 new hospitals would be constructed across the country. He said the same programme would also provide free primary and tertiary healthcare to patients, adding the programme being carried out on periodic basis would eventually benefit 100 million persons. The prime minister also mentioned the free-of-cost immunisation for infants and pregnant mothers, besides continuity of anti-polio campaign. Giving salient features of the project, State Minister for Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar said the state-of-the-art university would completely transform nursing sector in Pakistan. The minister said the graduates of the university, affiliated with prestigious Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, would have an edge in local and international markets. Earlier, the prime minister flanked by Lt Gen Sheikh Muhammad bin Essa bin Salman unveiled the plaque for King Hamad Nursing University and Associated Medical Sciences. Pakistan’s ambassador to Bahrain Javaid Malik briefed the prime minister about the project.