Anura Kumara Dissanayake

AKD fumbles the numbers on higher malnutrition in Nuwara Eliya


…if you take Sri Lanka as a whole, the prevalence of low birthweight is 12.2% but if you take the Nuwara Eliya hill country community, it is 20%. Generally, in Sri Lanka, 7.4% of children below the age of 5 years suffer from wasting but among the hill country communities, it is 8.2%. Generally, at a national level, the prevalence of stunting is 8.2%; among the hill country communities, it is 17.4%...

Parliament live telecast | November 8, 2022


Partly True

Fact Check

In his statement, the MP claims that the hill country region, noting Nuwara Eliya specifically, has a higher prevalence of malnutrition than Sri Lanka in general. To check this claim, consulted data from the Family Health Bureau and the Ministry of Health Annual Health Bulletin from 2019. 

Undernutrition, which is a subset of malnutrition, is measured in children under 5 using three criteria: a) percentage underweight (below average weight for age); b) percentage of stunting (below average height for age); and c) percentage of wasting (below average weight for height).  

The MP makes mistakes in stating the numbers in support of his claim (also illustrated in Exhibit 1): 

  1. The MP states the percentages of underweight children in Sri Lanka (12.2%) and in Nuwara Eliya (20%) as the percentages for low birth weight. 
  2. The MP switches around the actual numbers for prevalence of wasting (8.2%) and stunting (7.4%) in Sri Lanka. 
  3. The MP understates the prevalence of wasting in children under 5 in Nuwara Eliya as 8.2%, while the data indicates that the prevalence is 9.7%.  

The MP has got most of the right numbers but places them in the wrong categories during his speech. Nevertheless, the right numbers in the right place, do support the MP’s overall claim that malnutrition is more severe in Nuwara Eliya. Exhibit 1 shows that the percentage of children under 5 who are underweight, wasting, and stunting and the prevalence of low birth weight are significantly higher than the national average in the Nuwara Eliya district. 

Therefore, we classify the MP’s statement as PARTLY TRUE. 

*’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, will revisit the assessment. 

Exhibit 1: Prevalence of malnutrition in children under 5 and low birth weight 

Sources: Family Health Bureau Nutrition Data (2021), MoH Annual Health Bulletin (2019)  


Nutrition Data 2021, Family Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, available at [Last accessed 1 December 2022] 

Annual Health Bulletin 2019, Ministry of Health, Available at;  [Last accessed 1 December 2022]   

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