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    Ageing and Health

    Studies | Publications | Related work

    Populations everywhere are ageing, with the percentage of the population that is elderly increasing. A process that started first in the developed countries of Europe and North America, population ageing is now a reality in developing countries, and particularly those in Asia. Sri Lanka is in many ways at the forefront of this transition. In 1995, it become the poorest country to achieve below-replacement level fertility, and its population is already the oldest in South and South-East Asia, excepting the high-income Singapore. Sri Lanka thus faces the challenge of coping with the health and social implications of ageing at a lower level of income than any previous country.

    Population ageing poses significant challenges to Sri Lanka’s health system, and will require the development of new thinking, as well as simply copying the responses of the developed countries, where ageing began earlier. Although Sri Lanka has done well historically to reduce mortality and sickness in infants and in the young, it has not done so well in improving the health of adults, particularly men. A major need is to understand why it has not done so well in this area, and to find ways to change this. Relatedly, we lack the evidence to know whether the links between ageing and health observed previously in advanced economies will hold in the setting of developing countries such as Sri Lanka. Research on the problems faced in Sri Lanka and resulting solutions will thus have significant relevance for other developing countries, who are set to follow Sri Lanka’s demographic path. Sri Lanka is thus a potential pioneer and test case for understanding the links between ageing and health, and for developing affordable health service and health system responses


    Current research programme

    Owing to the long-term future implications, research on ageing and health is a core priority for IHP, and we expect this to become more so in coming years. We are concerned to focus on issues that are not yet on the policy agenda, with the objective of developing solutions and understanding for the policy problems of tomorrow. Since there are no low or lower-middle income countries who are more advanced than Sri Lanka in the process of ageing, we also recognise the importance of taking a regional and international perspective in our research, so that we can fully benefit from understanding trends in other countries.

    Looking to the future, we are keen to collaborate with other researchers to develop long-term panel surveys of the health and social status of the elderly, and to investigate trends in chronic and non-communicable disease morbidity in the elderly and how these might differ from developed countries.

    Our current research includes:

    • An ongoing study examining data from the last two national population censuses in Sri Lanka to assess trends in disability in the elderly. >>More...
    • We are working with the World Bank on its Sri Lanka Aging Survey (SLAS), which surveyed several thousand elderly persons in Sri Lanka during early 2006. >>More...
    • In parallel to the SLAS work, we are conducting an assessment of issues and policies in the Sri Lankan health sector with respect to ageing.
    • Development of an updated actuarial projection model to model the impact of ageing on health expenditures in Sri Lanka during the next one hundred years. >>More...
    • We are analyzing trends in age-sex specific mortality in Sri Lanka with a focus on NCDs, and examining whether current policies should change to focus on secondary prevention of ischaemic heart disease.


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