Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) lead to around 120,000 deaths in Sri Lanka each year, constituting 83% of the overall recorded deaths. The revised National Policy and Strategic Framework for the Prevention and Control of NCDs is a positive initiative by the government to address this. Such policies can play a crucial role in promoting healthier lifestyles, preventing NCDs, and improving overall public health. However, the question that lingers is, how effective are the existing measures, and where can we make improvements?
In the battle against NCDs, the government implemented a crucial policy in 2017 – the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage (SSB) tax. This tax aimed to curb the consumption of SSBs closely linked to health problems like obesity, diabetes, and dental issues. While this measure holds great promise, evaluating its effectiveness is difficult owing to data gaps. However, an IPS analysis of how SSB taxes are helping to reduce their consumption in Sri Lanka provides some initial insights.
In line with globally recommended practices to reduce the dietary risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the Sri Lankan government implemented a traffic-light labelling (TLL) system for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) in August 2016. The purpose of the regulations was to educate the public on the sugar content in SSBs to promote healthy diets in Sri Lanka and reduce NCDs associated with a high sugar intake. Six years on, it is time to assess the effectiveness of TLL in encouraging healthier food choices. Based on an ongoing IPS study – ‘Strengthening Fiscal Policies and Regulations to Promote Healthy Diets in Sri Lanka’ and written ahead of World Health Day 2022, this blog – discusses consumers’ knowledge of TLL and how it impacts their SSB choices.
Like many other countries, Sri Lanka faces numerous challenges in the battle against COVID-19. The pandemic has caused deep uncertainty and presented a colossal challenge for the country’s healthcare system. With the rapid increase in cases and the emergence of new variants, Sri Lanka began to face shortages of medical resources, including hospital beds and medical equipment. The vaccination programme was beset with a host of problems early on due to the irregular and inconsistent supply of vaccines, disorganised deployment and deviation from the scientifically agreed prioritisation. There was also alleged misreporting of COVID-19 daily statistics in the Gampaha district and Eastern Province. The absence of real-time data acted as a hindrance to obtain a reliable risk assessment in the country. Against this backdrop, this blog examines the gaps in the ongoing pandemic control programme and outlines ways to bridge these gaps so that more lives could be saved from COVID-19.
This blog, based on a forthcoming IPS publication, discusses the impact of tobacco spending on other basic needs. The findings of the study show that spending on tobacco results in households foregoing other critical expenditure.
Implementing tobacco control policies to reduce smoking prevalence will enhance the economic well-being of people, particularly the poor, as it would free up more resources for basic needs such as food and education, resulting in a positive gain for the whole economy. For a developing country like Sri Lanka, it is essential to integrate tobacco control measures into poverty alleviation policies and programmes to benefit the individual, the household and the national economy.