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In Sri Lanka 20 percent of children are having a mental or physical disability Gotabaya Rajapaksa Twitter


27 February 2020 12:01 am - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



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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  Comments - 6

  • i wathu Friday, 28 February 2020 04:43 AM

    we must be a mental nation if to 20% is mentally or physically disabled. that is a big number. LOL.

    Chinna patas Wednesday, 04 March 2020 11:10 AM

    Maybe he's referring to all the child buddhist monks who are undergoing mental trauma not of their own choosing????

    Roger Haĺliday Friday, 06 March 2020 08:53 PM

    I guess we are a stupid people that's why the politicians are screwing us despite changing governments

    Bhatiya Siriwardena Wednesday, 11 March 2020 08:23 AM

    That shows the mental condition of our politicians. Most of their statement are false as seen in factcheck

    K.L Pathirana Monday, 23 March 2020 08:26 AM

    He is referring to the mental disabilities of the registered voters who made a childish error in the last presidential elections.

    Andrew Silva Tuesday, 31 March 2020 05:26 AM

    20 per cent of children suffer from mental problems in Sri Lanka according to the President, and we all know more than 50 per cent of our politicians are in the same category.

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