Since Sri Lanka's independence in 1948, the government has been committed to providing a healthcare system that reaches all classes, genders and ethnicities. In 1949, health was declared a fundamental right of citizenship by Sri Lanka’s first Minister of Health, S. W. D. Bandaranaike. Since then, Sri Lanka has been consistently held as a model of good health at low cost.
Striving for Equity: Healthcare in Sri Lanka from Independence to the Millennium, 1948–2000 explores the implementation of primary healthcare in Sri Lanka against the background of a 30-year internal conflict. It includes an analysis of how international health organisations like the WHO imposed a global health agenda on the developing world through a study of a joint WHO–Sri Lanka project on tuberculosis control.
The author studies selected health policy developments and programmes in Sri Lanka from 1948–2000 with a special focus on children's health, especially the problem of malnutrition, and the implementation of the childhood immunisation programme.
Along with the continuing incidence of communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases present a growing obstacle to the achievement of equity in the twenty-first century. How the country has responded to this double disease burden problem provides the focus of the final chapter.
Margaret Jones is Research Associate, Centre for Global Health Histories, Department of History, University of York, UK.