All Round View(Peshawar) The Indian High Commission in the Maldives announced that the government of India urgently dispatched 2,400 vials of BCG vaccine to cover a shortage in Maldives’ National Immunization Programme. Dispatched in response to a request from the Maldivian government, the supply of BCG vaccines is expected to arrive later the same day. The BCG vaccine is administered to infants in order to ensure immunity against tuberculosis.
According to the Indian High Commission, the Ministry of Health and India’s Ministry of External Affairs procured the vaccine and arranged for its transport in cooperation with the High Commission of Maldives in Delhi, the Honorary Consul of the Maldives in Mumbai, and the Maldivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The High Commission described health sector cooperation as a fundamental aspect of the bilateral relationship between Maldives and India, noting that this partnership strengthened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instances of bilateral cooperation and assistance extended throughout 2020 include the deployment of a medical team from India to assess preparedness, the donation of 5.5 tonnes of essential medicines, airlifting 6.3 tonnes of essential medicines and consumables from various Indian cities, and granting critically ill Maldivians permission to travel to India for healthcare. Earlier in January 2020, India dispatched 30,000 doses of the Measles-Rubella vaccine amid Maldives’ efforts to curb a measles outbreak.
India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity. Except for a brief period between February 2012 to November 2018, relations have been close, cordial and multi‐dimensional. India was among the first to recognize the Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. India–Maldives relations refer to the bilateral relations between India and Maldives. India and Maldives are neighbours sharing a maritime border. Relations have been friendly and close in strategic, economic and military cooperation. India continues to contribute to maintaining security on the island nation.
Since the success of Operation Cactus, the relations between India and Maldives have expanded significantly. India has provided extensive economic aid and has participated in bilateral programmes for the development of infrastructure, health, telecommunications and labour resources. It established the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Malé, the capital of Maldives, expanded telecommunications and air links and increased scholarships for Maldivian students. While India’s exports to the Maldives during 2006 were worth ₹384 crores, imports were worth less than ₹6 crores. The State Bank of India has contributed more than US$500 million to aid the economic expansion of Maldives. India and Maldives have announced plans to jointly work to expand fisheries and tuna processing.
As per the High Commission, India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ foreign policy continued to demonstrate the country’s readiness to assist the Maldives in times of need. The High Commission also stated that the diplomatic ties between the two countries were reinvigorated under the leadership of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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