Shocking state of child health revealed

Hard on the heels of Sri Lanka taking over the World Health Organisation presidency, the government has revealed the shocking and deteriorating state of child health.

According to the government, among the children less than five years, 13.5 per cent suffered from chronic malnutrition.

At least 30 per cent of children less than five years of age suffered from anaemia. The percentage of school children suffering from chronic malnutrition and anaemia had been estimated at 19.6 and 21. Of 33.3 per cent adolescents suffering from acute malnutrition, almost 23 per cent suffer from anaemia, too, according to the latest findings.

The reports revealed the appalling conditions of pregnant women with over 30 per cent experiencing anaemia. Officials said the situation would be much worse in rural and plantation areas and the northern and eastern areas.

The government Monday named June as the National Nutritious Month at a function held at a five star hotel in Colombo. Even if the studies on the children, student population and pregnant mothers were depressing, the function had ended with a five star lunch at the expense of foreign donors, well informed sources said. The sources acknowledged the absurdity in conducting a survey in remote Siyambalanduwa and launching it in Colombo in five star comfort.

The sources said the deteriorating health situation had exposed the population to a range of other diseases, particularly diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks.

The sources said the recently released figures had been worked out last year. The sources said the actual situation would be much worse than portrayed by the latest findings. The recent steep increase in all essential food items, particularly milk foods, fish, dry fish and meat due to a variety of reasons fuelled by unprecedented increase in fuel prices, the country would have to study the damaging impact on the population, the sources said. The sources acknowledged the bottom line was that runaway inflation had pushed a sizeable population towards poverty. Unfortunately the government and international agencies which sponsor grandiose schemes to tackle poverty seemed to be ignorant of the actual situation, the sources said.

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