India ‘deeply honoured’ to meet the world’s healthcare needs: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reiterated India’s commitment towards helping the world meet its healthcare needs while announcing that several countries will receive vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) from Wednesday. “India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community. Supplies of Covid vaccines to several countries will commence tomorrow, and more will follow in the days ahead,” PM Modi tweeted using the hashtag VaccineMaitri.

Bhutan, the Maldives and Bangladesh will be among the first countries in the neighbourhood to receive Covid-19 vaccines from India as grant assistance, with supplies of millions of doses to six nations set to begin on Wednesday. India will send 100,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine to the Maldives on Wednesday under emergency use approvals to vaccinate frontline and health workers and senior citizens, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity. A consignment of vaccines is also expected to reach Bhutan on Wednesday, they added.

The ministry of external affairs in a statement said that India will continue to supply vaccines to neighbouring countries in a phased manner over the next few months and remains committed to helping the world fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. “In keeping with India’s stated commitment to use India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity to help all of humanity fight the Covid pandemic, supplies under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles will begin from 20 January 2021,” the statement said.

PM Modi had on Monday assured leaders of Sri Lanka and the Maldives that India remains committed to helping its neighbours and the world at large in fighting against the pandemic. While replying to a tweet addressed to him by Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Prime Minister said that India will fulfil the promises it had made under its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. The Sri Lankan president had congratulated PM Modi on India’s successful launch of the Covid-19 vaccination drive.

Modi said, “Thank you, President @GotabayaR. We will continue to give due importance to our Neighborhood First policy while collectively fighting the pandemic.”

Modi also thanked Maldives president Ibrahim Solih and said that the vaccines developed in India will help in humanity fight against the pandemic which has taken over 2 million lives across the planet.

PM Modi has several times assured neighbours and friendly countries that India will live up to its reputation of being the ‘pharmacy of the world’. During his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September last year, the Prime Minister said that India’s vaccine production capability, cold storage chains and distribution systems will be used to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines.

Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said on Monday that India remains committed to equitable distribution of vaccines while addressing the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) executive board session. He said vaccines have brought a ray of hope and now governments across the world have to ensure that the ray of hope reaches everyone.

India had extended support to several nations in the early days of the pandemic in 2020 and also supplied hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol tablets to the United States and Brazil.

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