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Original article

Health in rural Sri Lanka: A cross-sectional survey of three rural districts

Authors:

Upul Senarath ,

University of Colombo, LK
About Upul
Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
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Sanath Senanayake,

University of Colombo, LK
About Sanath
Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine
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Sisira Pathirana,

University of Colombo, LK
About Sisira
Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine
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Nadira Karunaweera,

University of Colombo, LK
About Nadira
Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine
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Manuj C. Weerasinghe,

University of Colombo, LK
About Manuj C.
Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
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Nalika S. Gunawardena,

World Health Organization, Colombo, LK
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Ishanka P. Munugoda,

University of Colombo, LK
About Ishanka P.
Rural Health Research Centre.  Faculty of Medicine
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Saroj Jayasinghe,

University of Colombo, LK
About Saroj
Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
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Priyani Amarathunga,

University of Colombo, LK
About Priyani
Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine
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Enoka Corea,

University of Colombo, LK
About Enoka
Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine
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Varuni De Silva,

University of Colombo, LK
About Varuni
Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
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Deepika Fernando,

University of Colombo, LK
About Deepika
Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine
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Ravindra Fernando,

University of Colombo, LK
About Ravindra
Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine
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Ariaranee Gnanathasan,

University of Colombo, LK
About Ariaranee
Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
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Mangala Gunatilake,

University of Colombo, LK
About Mangala
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine
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Sharmini Gunawardena,

University of Colombo, LK
About Sharmini
Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine
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Prasad Katulanda,

University of Colombo, LK
About Prasad
Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
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Senaka Rajapakse,

University of Colombo, LK
About Senaka
Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
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Nilakshi Samaranayake,

University of Colombo, LK
About Nilakshi
Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine
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Yamuna Siriwardana

University of Colombo, LK
About Yamuna
Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine
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Abstract

Introduction 

Sri Lanka has a predominantly rural population. However, there is a dearth of research on health and socioeconomic issues in this group. 


Objective

To describe basic socioeconomic characteristics and health profile in a rural population.


Methods 

A descriptive cross-sectional household survey was conducted in 1950 households in three rural districts, selected by a three-stage stratified cluster sampling method.

 

Results 

The population pyramid showed an ageing population (dependency ratio of 50%). Only 39% had completed GCE (ordinary level).  Unemployment rates were high (25% males, 76% females). Agriculture and related work were main occupations. Most lacked amenities (e.g. 61% households lacked a refrigerator) and practiced inappropriate methods of waste disposal (e.g. open burning by 72%). Household illnesses were frequent: episodes of acute illness within two weeks, injuries within past year and chronic illness were reported from 35.9%, 14.9% and 48.3% households. The prevalence of chronic diseases in adults >20 years were high: diabetes 13.5%, hypertension 16.7% and overweight/obesity 28.2%. Of the males, 22.1% smoked and 12.3% took alcohol.  Almost 25% adults chewed betel. Reports of snake bite, dog bites and suicide/attempted suicide were seen in 15.5%, 9.7% and 3.0% households respectively. 

 

Conclusions

This study shows a unique clustering of health-related problems in rural Sri Lanka. This was characterized by demographic transition, burden from snake bites, chronic diseases and acute illnesses. There were resource limitations and low levels of education. Cohort studies and comparisons with urban areas will enable further elucidation of determinants of health and other issues in rural Sri Lanka.

 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v64i3.8957
How to Cite: Senarath, U., Senanayake, S., Pathirana, S., Karunaweera, N., Weerasinghe, M.C., Gunawardena, N.S., Munugoda, I.P., Jayasinghe, S., Amarathunga, P., Corea, E., De Silva, V., Fernando, D., Fernando, R., Gnanathasan, A., Gunatilake, M., Gunawardena, S., Katulanda, P., Rajapakse, S., Samaranayake, N. and Siriwardana, Y., 2019. Health in rural Sri Lanka: A cross-sectional survey of three rural districts. Ceylon Medical Journal, 64(3), pp.103–110. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v64i3.8957
Published on 30 Sep 2019.
Peer Reviewed

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