Monday, October 24, 2011

[EQ] SDOH Country Statement Minister of Health Sri Lanka

Speech Delivered by His Excellency Mr Maithripal Sirisena, M.P.

Minister of Health, Sri Lanka


“……I consider it a privilege and an honour for me, as the Minister of Health, Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, to address the 'World Conference on Social Determinants of Health' held in the beautiful city, Rio de Janeiro.


Coming from a developing nation in South East Asia Region I see significant differences in health outcomes among different countries as well as within the same country rooted in divergent social status, income, ethnicity and gender.


Going by the statistics published by WHO for 2010 I find that mortality rates of children under 5 years age in high income countries much less than in lower income countries.


It is the same with life expectancy at birth.  In a high income country like USA the life expectancy at birth is 88 years where as in a low income country like Somalia it is 51 years.  Similar imbalances can be observed within the same country among those living in urban or rural areas, and within different racial, cultural and tribal groups.


Although we may not be able to wipe out these disparities within a year or even a decade, we have to find solutions to curtail these inequities as much as possible.


It is for this purpose we are meeting today in response to World Health Assembly Resolution with urges the WHO to discuss new plans to address the alarming trends of health inequities through addressing social determinants of health.


I wish to speak a few works about my country's health situation.  You will remember that Sri Lanka went through a conflict period of terrorism for period of three decades.  Now we have completely freed the country of terrorism.


I am happy to inform that even during this conflict period we maintained the health care system in the conflict areas in a satisfactory condition due to the dedication and commitment of our medical doctors and the supporting health staff.


The life expectancy at birth in Sri Lanka increased to 76.4 years in 2010 and the infant mortality rate reduce to 12 per 1000 live births.  This is a satisfying condition for a developing country like Sri Lanka.


There are a few health inequities prevailing in my country as well among the urban and rural population especially the estate sector in tea plantation areas and some minority ethnic groups.  However our Government is addressing those imbalances and doing its utmost to reduce them.


We have a free education system up to and beyond University level, and a free health system to the entire population.  All these have helped us achieve great strides in the health care system.  It is not boasting, as per the health indicators published by WHO our country is about the best in our regions.


Before I conclude I wish to thank the WHO for convening this meeting.  WHO has bee cooperating with us all these years to help develop our health care system and also to reduce health inequities.


Finally I thank His Excellency the Minister of Health Mr Alexandre Rocha Santos Padhila and Government of the Federal Republic of Brazil for consenting to host this Conference and the wonderful arrangements made for its success, and hospitality bestowed on us.


Thank you. …”

Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health

World Conference on Social Determinantds of Health
Rio de Janeiro Brazil, October 21, 2011

Available online at

The Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health expresses global political commitment for the implementation of a social determinants of health approach to reduce health inequities and to achieve other global priorities. It will help to build momentum within WHO Member States for the development of dedicated national action plans and strategies….”


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