The battle for survival begins as early as when a child is conceived. In Sri Lanka, one out of five children is born with low birth weight and nearly one-third of children under-5 years are underweight. This is a result of inadequate weight-gain during pregnancy, anaemia and maternal under-nutrition. Although the incidence of infants receiving medical care has increased.
While child mortality figures have steadily improved, malnutrition among children continues to be a major health problem. Nearly 24 per cent of children under 5 years, and 55 per cent in the 6-10 age group, are anaemic. Iodine deficiency is also prevalent in certain areas and can adversely affect the child’s physical and mental development.
There are a sizeable number of children of migrant families who are often unsupervised and fall prey to anti-social elements in society, and are at risk of participating in violence and alcohol and drug abuse.