India once more demonstrated commitment to its 'Neighbours First' policy by the quick response the country had in delivering aid for Maldives' needs throughout January.
The new decade, therefore, marks a new era of improved bilateral relations between Maldives and India, with the two countries cooperating particularly closely in the health sector.
In June 2019, India-Maldives signed an MoU on health cooperation and delegations met in capital Male' during January 5-6 to frame a roadmap for cooperation in capacity building and training of doctors and medical and mental health professionals, disease surveillance and setting up digital health capacities.
Moreover, amidst the recent outbreak of measles, India supplied Maldives with 30,000 doses of measles and rubella vaccine on January 23.
According to Indian media Hindustan Times, India's External Affairs ministry provided the vaccine doses within three days after Maldives made an emergency request following the outbreak of the disease, that was eradicated in 2017.
During the ceremony held to hand over the doses, Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen presented a certificate of appreciation to the Indian Ambassador Sunjay Sundhir to convey gratitude for India's gesture of goodwill and solidarity.
In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of India, on Sunday, arranged the emergency transport of seven Maldivians in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The seven students were brought to New Delhi aboard the Air India B747 flight after the Maldivian government lodged the request on humanitarian grounds.
The Indian embassy and foreign ministry began cooperating on the effort during the previous week, with the evacuation conducted as soon as the Chinese government granted approval.
The foreign ministry highlighted that the timely evacuation once again highlighted India's capabilities to serve as a first responder during emergencies faced by the Maldivian people.
It also underscores longstanding bilateral ties and the synergy between India's Neighbourhood First policy and Maldives' India First policy, the ministry added.
"Health remains one of the strongest pillars of bilateral cooperation between India and the Maldives and the gesture emphasises the mutually supportive roles of India's 'Neighbours First' policy and Maldives' 'India First' policy", India's internal affairs ministry said.
After years of souring relations during former President Abdulla Yameen’s administration, India and Maldives reset ties since President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took office in November 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended President Solih’s inaugural ceremony held in capital Male in November 2018, and the president's first state visit abroad was made to India in December 2018.
Modi visited Maldives in June 2019, the Indian leader's first state visit following his re-election to office, and saw the signing of six key agreements and substantive bilateral level talks, reaffirming cooperation between the two countries.
Modi was conferred with Maldives’ highest honour — the Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen — by President Solih during the visit.