Maldives announces to slash reliance on India for healthcareJanuary 15, 2024
Diplomatic tensions between the Maldives and India are escalating, prompting Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu to announce a reduction in dependence on India for healthcare and medicine. The move involves expanding the list of countries where citizens requiring government-funded medical treatment abroad can seek assistance. In a recent media interview in Male, Muizzu revealed that the government aims to “diminish reliance on… a select group of countries,” while not explicitly naming India. Instead, the Maldives will explore healthcare collaborations with the United Arab Emirates.
Currently, a significant portion of pharmaceuticals in the Maldives is imported from India. However, the President emphasized the diversification of sources, indicating plans to import medicines from the United States and European nations. This strategic shift underscores the Maldives’ efforts to establish healthcare partnerships beyond its traditional ties with India.
The strained relations between the Maldives and India are further exacerbated by President Muizzu’s call for the withdrawal of Indian troops by March 15. This deadline was established during talks between Maldivian and Indian officials, in line with the President’s longstanding electoral promise. The demand for the withdrawal of Indian forces has been presented to India through the high-level committee meetings between the two nations. The proposal is currently under consideration, according to Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim, Muizzu’s Public Policy Secretary.
President Muizzu assumed power in September, pledging to evict Indian forces from the Maldives. This move indicates a significant geopolitical shift as the Maldives, historically considered within India’s sphere of influence, appears to be aligning more closely with China. China is currently the Maldives’ largest external creditor, and this realignment raises questions about the evolving dynamics in the Indian Ocean region. The Maldives’ decision to diversify its healthcare partnerships and demand the withdrawal of Indian troops underscores a broader recalibration of its foreign policy. As geopolitical alliances in the Indian Ocean region undergo transformations, the Maldives aims to assert its autonomy and redefine its relationships with key nations. The unfolding developments will be closely watched to assess the impact on regional dynamics and alliances.