Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday (29) requested a Parliamentary debate on the recent UNICEF report on child malnutrition in Sri Lanka.
Premadasa, speaking in Parliament, said according to the UNICEF report, Sri Lanka is now ranked sixth in the world in child malnourishment and second in South Asia.
“According to this report, the situation of the country is grim. It is said that more and more parents in Sri Lanka are directing their children to care centres due to Sri Lanka’s increasing food prices. Also insufficient access to protein and other nutrients has posed a challenge to physical and cognitive development of children,” Premadasa pointed out.
The Opposition Leader also requested Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella to provide a statement on the matter to Parliament within this week.
Speaking further, Premadasa said one could say that this type of situation can be expected in a bankrupt country.
However, it is reported that more than Rs 400 million has been allocated for the construction of official residences of certain VIPs. Prior to those things, the wellbeing of our children should come first, he stressed, requesting the Government to present a plan to address the matter in the Interim Budget.
Leader of the House and Education Minister Susil Premajayantha, who spoke after Premadasa, said, to address the matter, the Government is planning to establish a programme with the participation of private sector and NGOs.
A task plan to provide free mid-day meals for all schoolchildren will be included in the budget for next year, he told Parliament.
Minister Premajayantha said that arrangements will be made to provide mid-day meals for all schoolchildren through the next year’s budget.
We have also established a programme to increase the number of hectares to grow maize, Premajayantha said.
BY Methmalie Dissanayake