Afghanistan has begun work on a $30-million hospital for the treatment of tuberculosis, a disease that health officials say kills more than 10,000 Afghans every year.
The Japanese government is paying for the 80-bed center in the Afghan capital, which will also treat malaria and AIDS patients. Japan is the second-largest donor to Afghanistan, after the United States.
The World Health Health Organization says 53,000 Afghans get tuberculosis each year. Afghanistan's Public Health Ministry says more people die from the disease than war-related violence.
During Thursday's groundbreaking in Kabul, Afghan Health Minister Suraya Dalil said Afghanistan ranks in the top 20 worldwide for the most TB patients.
She says several programs have been initiated in the past few years to combat the preventable disease. The health minister says there are 2,000 centers across Afghanistan for the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis.
The disease is caused by a bacteria and usually affects the lungs. Tuberculosis spreads through the air from one person to another. Symptoms include a bad cough, chest pain, weakness and fever. Its can be treated using drugs.