Ramesh Pathirana

Minister Pathirana: Numbers on malnutrition are under-nourished

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Malnutrition, which stood at 27.4 percent in 2009, has dropped to 12.2 percent by 2021. This reflects a very clear development in our health sector.

Parliament Hansard | செப்டம்பர் 7, 2022

partly_true

Partly True

உண்மைச் சரிபார்ப்புகளும்

The minister in his statement provides figures to establish that malnutrition in Sri Lanka has been decreasing since 2009.   

To check this claim, FactCheck.lk consulted the World Health Organisation (WHO), Department of Census & Statistics survey on Demographic and Health 2016 (DCS), Family Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health (MoH) National Statistics dashboard and annual reports. 

Malnutrition is defined as those who suffer from deficient or excessive nutrient intake. That is either undernutrition or overnutrition. Undernutrition is evaluated based on a person displaying any one of three characteristics defined as (1) “wasting” or (2) “stunting” or (3) “underweight” (below two standard deviations of the mean weight for age). 

In Sri Lanka the MOH provides annually, and the DCS provides sporadically, statistics on the assessments of undernutrition. Exhibit 1 shows the MOH and DCS statistics from 2009 to 2021 for available data. 

The minister correctly cites the “underweight” numbers, among children under the age of 5, as given by MoH, which is 27.4% in 2009, and 12.2% in 2021. 

The minister in his statement uses the term ‘malnutrition’. However, the data he cites correctly is for children who are underweight, which is not a full count of those who suffer from undernutrition. Therefore, it is not a full count of those who suffer from malnutrition. This makes him not accurate on the numbers.  

However, the larger claim of the minister is that there is a clear reduction in the under 5 population that is malnourished. Exhibit 1 shows that in terms of overnutrition, there is a slight increase in malnutrition, but for malnutrition in terms of undernutrition, there is a large reduction in all three forms of measuring it.  

Despite the minister incorrectly equating data on the “underweight” as data on malnutrition, the larger claim of the MP is supported by trends in the overall data on malnutrition. Therefore, we classify him 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 – Measurement of nutritional status among children under the age of 5 years (figures as percentages)

Source: MOH statistics in 2009, 2016 and 2021, DCS statistics in 2016



மூலம்

Malnutrition, World Health Organization, Available at; https://www.who.int/health-topics/malnutrition#tab=tab_1[Last accessed 22 November 2022]   

Protocols of managing nutritional problems among under five children in the community, Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition, Available at; https://fhb.health.gov.lk/images/FHB%20resources/ChildNutrition/CIRCULAR/Protocol%20for%20managing%20nutrition%20problems.pdf [Last accessed 22 November 2022]   

Demographic and Health Survey 2016, Department of Census & Statistics and Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition, Available at; http://www.statistics.gov.lk/Health/StaticalInformation/DemographicAndHealthSurvey-2016FullReport [Last accessed 22 November 2022]   

National Statistics Dashboard, Family Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Available at; https://fhb.health.gov.lk/index.php/en/statistics [Last accessed 22 November 2022]   

Annual Report 2019, Family Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Available at; https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j3KdkBN0cwueRB9opmYsJN_03tNGvwDz/view [Last accessed 22 November 2022]   

Annual Report 2018, Family Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Available at; https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hDs-1C6gbneb44jw41aNvMDuP9W_FOev/view [Last accessed 22 November 2022]   

Annual Report 2017, Family Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Available at; https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sIAnkf1okrinQI3VDCtOokPtf9vvc94o/view [Last accessed 22 November 2022]   

Annual Report 2016, Family Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Available at; https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kNOB0IwEgIVKpP0-J3mC52dan6yY1qDL/view [Last accessed 22 November 2022]   

Annual Report 2015, Family Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Available at; https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cym2eQEM1PGuEM52KucGwThDw1m4kgnY/view [Last accessed 22 November 2022]   

Annual Report 2014, Family Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Available at; https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tgMSe1fRvwSJ8_LgDyHe1gsxDo4aKQiB/view [Last accessed 22 November 2022]   

Annual Report 2013, Family Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Available at; https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MwexX8NmDWWrpxcUCLHdMKPOr6AG-wNs/view [Last accessed 22 November 2022]

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