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Disabil Rehabil. 2014;36(20):1742-8. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2013.864714. Epub 2013 Dec 9.

Disability studies in Sri Lanka: priorities for action.

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Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland , Auckland , New Zealand .



To review the published literature relating to disability in Sri Lanka, identify research gaps and inform priorities for action.


A narrative literature review was undertaken and relevant articles extracted using electronic databases such as Medline and PubMed. The available literature was examined in relation to the nine key recommendations of the World Report on Disability.


Over the past 30 years, published disability research in Sri Lanka has primarily focussed on mental health, visual impairment and healthcare delivery. Significant gaps were apparent in evidence relating to the status and services for people with intellectual disability, policies and their impact, provider attitudes, barriers to education and employment, health workforce training and access to healthcare.


While published studies provide insights on several dimensions of disability, there are important research gaps pointing to unmet needs that require attention to support the health and wellbeing of people living with disability in Sri Lanka. To address these gaps, it is imperative that a critical mass of multi-disciplinary researchers including people living with disabilities collaborate on a strategic program of research using effective participatory approaches that engage all sectors and communities relevant to uphold the rights of people living with disability. Implications for Rehabilitation All nine key recommendations in the World Report on Disability are highly pertinent to the needs and status of people living with disabilities in Sri Lanka. Significant gaps in research on disability-related health issues exist and warrant more focussed attention by researchers, funders and policy makers. It is imperative that national stakeholders including the Ministries of Health and Social Welfare, organisations representing people living with disability and related advocacy groups, work collaboratively to identify and implement a research strategy that would better inform disability policies and programmes that have access and equity as core principles. Implementation of a national disability survey by the Department of Census and Statistics, will help prioritize disability research in the country.


Developing country; Sri Lanka; health priorities

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