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Sri Lanka Life expectancy: Women beat men

The Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) yesterday revealed Sri Lankan women lived 6.6 years longer than their male counterparts.

DCS Additional Director General Indu Bandara said the life expectancy of females in Sri Lanka was 78.6 years at present, while males lived only 72 years on average according to the findings of latest surveys.

She was addressing a media awareness programme on newly published indicators organised by the DCS together with the Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media at the Waters Edge hotel in Colombo. State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Niroshan Perera was the Chief Guest on the occasion.

Country representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Alain Sibenaler handed over the report titled ‘20.4 Million: Sri Lanka’s Population at a Glance’ to Minister Perera and Director General of the DCS Dr A. J. Satharasinghe at the event.

Delivering a lecture at the seminar, Bandara said life expectancy of Sri Lankan females had been lower than males until 1962-64, but it had changed thereafter.

She said Sri Lanka’s life expectancy of males and females was 32.7 and 30.7 respectively in 1920-22, but it had happily increased during the last nine decades.

Bandara said the highest life expectancy of females 81.1 years was recorded from the Ampara District. The second highest, 80.2 years was recorded from the Matara District, while Galle (79.9 years) and Gampaha (79.9 years) were placed on the third and fourth places.

According to her, the highest life expectancy of males was reported from the Hambantota District with 74.2 years. It was followed by Matara (73.9 years), Ratnapura (73.7 years) and Moneragala (73.7 years) Districts.

The lowest life expectancy of males and females was reported from Mullaitivu District with 60.9 and 72.9 years, she said.

Bandara said the second lowest male life expectancy, 64.5 years was reported from Kilinochchi District while Batticaloa (66.8 years) and Vavuniya (67.8 years) were placed third and fourth.

The third lowest life expectancy, 75.9 was reported from the Nuwara Eliya District and the fourth, 76.7 years from the Vavuniya District.

"According to our surveys, we have identified three reasons for the lower life time of males than females," Bandara said, noting that they were due to some biological factors, geographical factors as well as socio-economic factors.

Males did not have regular health check-ups compared to females who underwent tests before and after pregnancy, she said, adding that males also engaged in riskier occupations than females, according to the survey.

Bandara said that the high consumption of alcohol and tobacco had contributed to low life expectancy of males.

Females were active throughout their life time but males became inactive as they aged, she added.

However, Sri Lankan situation was better compared with other countries, Bandara said. According to latest statistics, the life expectancy of Japan (84.8 years) is the highest followed by Singapore (84.7), Switzerland (82.5), USA (79.7), Denmark (79.2), Sri Lanka (76.5), the Maldives (75.3), India (68.1), Kenya (63.7), Sudan (63.7), Uganda (54.9) and Afghanistan (50.8).

Director General of the DCS Dr A.J. Satharasinghe stressed the importance of statistics for the media for accurate reporting.

He said his institutions was ready to cooperate with the media.

Several statisticians also delivered short speeches on several topics at the workshop.