President misinformed on disabilityTo evaluate the president’s statement on Twitter made after the opening of the Ayati Centre, FactCheck consulted the most recent Population and Housing Census (PHC) compiled in 2011 by the Department of Census and Statistics (DCAS). The PHC uses a commonly understood definition of disability as mental or physical impairments that cause daily difficulty in at least one of six areas. The PHC finds the prevalence to be 1.7% in children aged 5-14 years.
This falls well below the 20% claimed by the president.
In searching for sources that might support the President’s claim, we consulted: The 2016 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) – this uses a lesser known statistic of Child Disability, defined by UNICEF as functional limitations relative to age specific norms in at least one of ten areas, in children aged 2-5 years. It reports this prevalence to be 22.8% in children aged 2-5 years. The Ayati website – this says “an estimated 20% of children have some form of mental or physical disability”. This estimation could not be verified with reference to available survey data in Sri Lanka.
It is clear from the context of the speech, the age range of children being referenced, and the direct reference to mental and physical disability, that the president was expressing the statistic within the commonly understood definition of disability that is used by the PHC.
But the number he quoted was possibly drawn from either the DHS statistic which is not assessed for children above 5 years of age; or from the unverified estimation posted on the Ayati website.
In making the statement the President may have inadvertently depended on sources that were inappropriate. On the available statistics, the statement is incorrect. Therefore, we classify it as FALSE.
*FactCheck’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck will revisit the assessment.
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