The re-start of the conflict in the north-east of Sri Lanka between the Government Army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has already caused the displacement of more than 200,000 people in 2006, with the possibility of an increase to an estimated 400,000 in case of further dissemination of the conflict. In addition, one million people in the hosting communities are likely to be affected if the conflict continues.
The persistence of displacement as well as the problems related to the road blockage in the northern districts, in particular Jaffna, adversely affect the overall health and nutritional status of the internally displaced people (IDPs) and the hosting communities. The overstretched health facilities are providing health care services to IDPs with the help of international support. However, the access to health services is generally reduced and there are also worrying setbacks on the immunization coverage. The possible new influx of IDPs will undermine the capacity of the health system to respond to the increasing demands.
During the month of November, outbreaks of Chikunguniya fever have been reported in different districts. The rapid spreading of the disease shows that present control strategies are not adequate to prevent mosquito breeding. Increase of other mosquito borne diseases like Dengue and Malaria can also be expected, in particular among IDPs.
Furthermore, the conflict situation has caused psycho-social distress among the population. An estimated 2% could be in need of mental health services and the number of suicides is feared to increase, Sri Lanka being already one of the countries with the highest rates of suicides in the world.