Updated on 3 August 2012
At present, the Sri Lankan government spends about four percent of its gross domestic product on public healthcare
Despite the unrest in the last few years, Sri Lanka has made significant achievements in nearly eradicating vaccine preventable diseases along with leprosy, malaria, Japanese Encephalitis, congenital syphilis, neonatal tetanus, lymphatic filariasis and measles. Diseases such as dengue and some other neglected tropical diseases such as leptospirosis and leishmeniasis continue to be threat to Sri Lanka. The ministry of health has been making efforts to reach total elimination of some of these diseases.
The government has been spending about four percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on public healthcare. With efforts made of the government and other agencies, 95 percent of the population has access to pharmaceutical products, which has resulted in an increase in life expectancy of people in Sri Lanka. In a population of 20.4 million, the average life expectancy has been on the rise from 62.1 years in 1960s to 68 years in 1980s and 75.3 years in 2010.
Rise in non-communicable diseases
Meanwhile, non-communicable diseases (NCD) are on the rise in Sri Lanka, particularly cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. These account for over 70 percent of morbidity in the country. According to World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases account for 30 percent of the deaths, while cancer accounts for nine percent followed by respiratory diseases (eight percent) and diabetes (four percent).
Considering the rise in NCDs, Sri Lankan government has taken many steps to prevent further rise. Identified areas include support prevention of chronic NCDs by strengthening the policy, regulatory and service delivery measures for reducing level of risk factors of NCDs in the population, implementing a cost-effective NCD screening program at the community level with special emphasis on cardiovascular diseases, facilitate provision of optimal NCD care by strengthening the health system to provide integrated and appropriate curative, preventive, rehabilitative and palliative services at each service level, empowering the community with healthy lifestyle, enhancing human resource development, strengthening the national health information system, including disease and risk factor surveillance, promoting research and utilization of its findings for prevention and control of NCDs, ensuring sustainable financing mechanisms that support cost-effective health interventions at both preventive and curative sectors and raising priority and integrating prevention and control of NCDs into policies across all government ministries, and private sector organizations.