Economic crisis hits hard: 60.5% households struggle

Colombo, Dec.28 (Daily Mirror) - The economic crisis is bearing on people with as many as 60.5 percent of households finding their monthly average incomes reduced while 91.0 percent of households experiencing an increase in their monthly expenditure levels, according to a survey by the Department of Census and Statistics.

The Department traced back the origin of the crisis to the 2019 Easter Sunday attack, said it was exacerbated by the pandemic.

The survey says households not only adapted their food consumption habits but also employed diverse livelihood-based coping strategies to address the challenges of inadequate food access and availability. Some of these strategies may have adverse effects on their income generation and ability to respond to future shocks. The survey revealed that 21.9 percent of the households nationwide had implemented crisis strategy to address the scarcity of food or financial constraints. This was followed by stress strategies, and it is about 19.2 percent. Notably, in the rural sector, this crisis strategy used proportion rose to 22.8%percent of households.

During the survey, numerous households cited various reasons that led to the drop in their average monthly income. The most frequently reported cause, accounting for 48.7 percent of respondents, was less working hours signifying a significant impact on household income. People have found salaries, allowances and commissions reduced as the least reported reason among households for the decline in income levels.

As a result of the crisis, households have employed various coping strategies to mitigate its impact such as turning to a secondary job or an additional source of income."

“Conversely, the least reported coping strategy among these households was loans, mortgages, or seeking food or money from others." It's noteworthy that a substantial majority, comprising 73.6 percent of households facing reduced income, did not adopt any specific coping strategy during this period,” the Department says.

The survey which dealt with the impact on the people’s health says individuals facing unemployment or reduced incomes often encounter challenges in accessing necessary medical treatments and preventive care, leading to delays or unavoidable gaps in healthcare.

Financial barriers may exacerbate pre-existing health conditions by limiting access to essential medications and treatments. This survey collected information aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of how people's health is affected during economic crisis, supporting policymakers in formulating strategies to address healthcare challenges arising from financial hardships.

The survey findings reported that approximately 29 percent of individuals have experienced some form of illness. Among these individuals, seven percent of patients have changed their treatment procedures as a direct result of the ongoing economic crisis.

Among the patients who altered their treatment procedures due to the economic crisis, 35.1 percent have changed their treatment location and 33.9 percent resorted to using drugs only when their illness reached a critical stage.

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