Main public health issues and concerns in Sri Lanka

Trends indicate a demographic transition. With the increase in life expectancy and the steady decline infertility (2.0 in 2000), Sri Lanka is ageing rapidly. It is projected that by 2020, 20% of Sri Lanka’s population will have reached age 60 or over. Mortality rate, currently at 5.7 per 1,000 population (CDR in 2000), has been declining since independence.

In 2002, infant and under-five mortality rates were 17/1,000 and 19/1,000 respectively, the lowest rates in the WHO South-east Asia Region. Sri Lanka has eradicated smallpox and achieved Universal Child Immunization. It is now well on the way to polio eradication.

Sri Lanka is also in an epidemiological transition. Malaria, tuberculosis, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections are still prevalent, but cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer are also emerging. Tobacco, substance and alcohol abuse have also increased in magnitude over the past two decades.

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