Sri Lanka's success story

Photo by alessandro pucci under the Creative Commons license.

In a press release titled 'Prioritizing maternal health in Sri Lanka,' UNICEF says Sri Lanka's progress in human development has been one of the key success stories among developing countries in recent decades.


Sri Lanka’s maternal mortality ratio declined from 340 per 100,000 live births in 1960 to 43 per 100,000 live births in 2005, and 98 per cent of births now take place in hospitals. Rates of antenatal care (at least one visit) and skilled attendance at birth stand at 99 per cent.

These results have also had positive effects on child survival: The under-five mortality rate has fallen from 32 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 21 per 1,000 live births in 2007. The latest available data suggest that the neonatal mortality rate has also fallen, to around 8 per 1,000 births in 2004.

In basic education, too, Sri Lanka’s performance has been outstanding.

According to the latest international estimates, net primary school enrolment stands at more than 97 per cent for both girls and boys, while literacy rates among young people aged 15–24 are 97 per cent for males and 98 per cent for females.

Administrative data suggest that the completion rate for primary school is 100 per cent. Given the positive correlation between education and maternal and child survival, these are the results of sustained investment in all three areas.

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