Sri Lanka has secured first place in terms of Human Development among SAARC countries on the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Index report released yesterday (Oct. 5).
According to the report, SAARC countries, other than India and the Maldives, have not even reached Sri Lanka’s HDI for 1980 which was 0.539.
The report said Sri Lanka has vast potential to further improve the situation compared to Singapore and Malaysia.
The report hailed the country’s education sector which has made remarkable achievements as against a number of developing countries.
Sri Lanka has been recognized as one of the few countries where free health and education are available to all citizens without discrimination for more than six decades.
It says that Sri Lanka's human development achievements are impressive, despite the fact that the country has just come out of a debilitating conflict which has damaged its very social fabric.
"Sri Lanka's life expectancy of 74.9 years in 2011 is higher compared to most developing countries", the report said. The report also said that the country's health sector has made many achievements during the past several years and it enjoys the lowest infant mortality rate in the SAARC region.
The infant mortality rate of the country has declined from 19.8 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 8.5 in 2007.
"In past 20 years, many countries across the globe, including Sri Lanka, have recorded substantial progress in Human Development.
Compared to two decades ago, people today are healthier, live longer, are more educated, and have better access to goods and services, the report said.