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)


Right of response (received on 1 December 2023):

MP Dissanayake responds to 

MP Dissanayake’s team has sent the following response via email to the fact-check published on 1 December 2022:

Thank you for your attention to the speech I made on 08th November. You have pointed out that I had made some errors in the figures I had mentioned.  However I have based on the figures in the Silumina newspaper of the previous sunday. Please check this Article published by Silumina: 
A screenshot attached below. This is just for your attention. Thank you.’s response to MP Dissanayake (sent to the MP via email) appreciates the response of MP Dissanayake and his email directing us to the source of the numbers that the MP mentioned in his speech. For the MP’s additional information, please see the table below for a comparison of the numbers in the article, the MP’s speech, and official government statistics used by

If the MP had indicated in his speech the source of his figures, it would have allowed the team to attribute the errors more directly to the newspaper rather than to the MP.  However, we will now work to make this known by providing the Daily Mirror newspaper with an explanation of why most of the MP’s numbers deviated from the official statistics, along with our commentary.

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]   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *