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, FactCheck.lk 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):
- 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.
- The MP switches around the actual numbers for prevalence of wasting (8.2%) and stunting (7.4%) in Sri Lanka.
- 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.
*FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk 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 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1moElBzjwYkYbkZRZxXRth1rcUNoKUq0h/view [Last accessed 1 December 2022]
Annual Health Bulletin 2019, Ministry of Health, Available at; http://www.health.gov.lk/moh_final/english/public/elfinder/files/publications/AHB/2020/AHB%202019.pdf [Last accessed 1 December 2022]