Sri Lanka’s government will table a report on the country’s malnutrition status in parliament, Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said after confusion over a UNICEF report created an uproar in the legislature.
Opposition legislator Rohini Kaviratne posed a question to the government in parliament on Wednesday September 21 on news reports of food shortages and malnutrition in the country.
Kaviratne questioned the basis on which Minister of Plantation and Industries Ramesh Pathirana recently rejected a UNICEF report that claimed the island is at sixth place in a global child malnutrition index.
Responding to her questions, Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukuwella said that the UNICEF office in Colombo apologised for the report and for using data from 2016 to compile the malnutrition report.
Minister Pathirana had earlier accused the report of containing outdated data.
As MP Kaviratne continued to question the health minister on the country’s malnutrition situation, the visibly irritated minister said he will present a detailed report to the parliament very soon.
“It is a fact that there is a downturn in the economy. If there’s 91 percent food inflation then of course it affects infants too. There are no exceptions,” said Minister Rambukwella.
“I will give a comprehensive report on this to parliament with exactly what is short and where we are.
“I will not hide it,” he said.
According to state statistics, Sri Lanka’s inflation stood at 64.3 percent in August 2022 while food prices rose to 93.7 percent.
Rambukuwella said the malnutrition issue in the country is being turned into a political issue.
“They are taking political advantage and they are going on a political journey on this,” he said.
“This is not a political issue; this is a general issue and all of us must get together.”