Dr Pulasthi Amarasinghe Discusses the Impact of Economic Crises on Sri Lanka’s Food and Health

14 March 2024

In a recent discussion on NewsFirst – TV1’s The People’s Platform, IPS Research Economist Dr Pulasthi Amarasinghe delved into the impact of the pandemic and economic crises on food consumption, health, education, and human capital. Shifts towards less expensive but nutritionally poorer food options have led to widespread nutritional deficiencies, affecting educational outcomes, increasing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and diminishing labour productivity, among others. Department of Census and Statistics surveys indicate that 54% of Sri Lankans are in debt, with food costs being a significant burden for 22% of them, exacerbated by political and economic instability.

Dr Amarasinghe noted that current government policies aimed at meeting calorie needs through cheaper, lower-quality food may alleviate short-term hunger but exacerbate long-term health issues. While efforts are made to prevent starvation, nutrition often takes a backseat due to financial constraints.

Addressing these challenges requires prioritising nutrition alongside food security measures. Government intervention in providing quality meals to schoolchildren and aligning agricultural support systems with the nation’s dietary needs can mitigate future health and productivity concerns.

Watch the full discussion here.