Intended for healthcare professionals


Sri Lanka’s health crisis

BMJ 2022; 379 doi: (Published 29 November 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;379:e073475
  1. Shashika Bandara, PhD candidate1,
  2. Inosha Alwis, lecturer2
  1. 1PhD candidate, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2Lecturer, Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Kandy, Sri Lanka
  1. Correspondence to: S Bandara shashika.bandara{at}

Urgent action is needed to maintain vital services

Sri Lanka is facing a severe political and economic crisis, and the health system is at risk of collapse. The crisis has been caused by years of economic mismanagement, an abrupt ban on agrochemicals in April 2021 causing a steep drop in agricultural output, and the covid-19 induced decline of the tourism industry.1 In early April 2022, Sri Lanka declared itself insolvent and unable to service its overseas debt.2

Interconnected challenges, including a severe shortage of essential medicines, a worsening socioeconomic landscape, and human rights violations,3 remain substantial threats to health in Sri Lanka. Understanding and addressing Sri Lanka’s health crisis is an urgent priority, both for its population and for other low- and middle- income countries facing similar challenges.

During the first quarter of 2022, lengthy power cuts and medicines shortages undermined the provision of effective healthcare across the country.4, 5 Efforts to resolve …

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