Colombo: Families suffering from food insecurity have shot up by 400 per cent in Sri Lanka compared to just the beginning of this year, an opposition leader said in remarks published on Saturday.
Rajitha Senaratne, a member of the main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) party, said health officials had estimated in 2021 that 1.5 million families suffered from food insecurity.
“When they did the survey, the economic crisis had not entered the current disastrous state,” he told the media here.
Senaratne said the World Food Programme (WFP) had conducted a survey in June 2022 and claimed that 28 percent of Sri Lankan families were food insecure amid the economic crisis, The Island newspaper reported.
“The WFP says around 6 million families are food insecure. That means in a very short time, the number of people facing food insecurity has risen by 400 per cent,” he said.
Senaratne said it was an indication how things had drastically changed due to bad policies of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government.
“Unfortunately, the current government is trying to make the current nutrition crisis into a debate on definitions of malnutrition. This is probably because all the people responsible for this disaster are in the current government, too,” the Island quoted him as saying.
“It is obvious that the people are not eating enough now. Sources of protein are too expensive. Even grains are too expensive. Anything healthy is expensive. Because of this the growth of children is affected. Pregnant women are affected. The lack of protein is leading to all kinds of trouble,” he said.
Senaratne, a former Health Minister, said during his tenure he had allocated space to a Japanese firm that produced a nutritious rice rusk.
“Children loved it. All these have stopped. We gave all pregnant women a nutrition bag worth Rs. 20,000. That programme too has stopped.
“There are no medicines in hospitals and some doctors bring in equipment that have been used and thrown out of private hospitals and treat patients. They sterilize the equipment and use it in state hospitals. This is the state we are at now,” he said.