Countries of CEE/CIS have some of the lowest levels of exclusive breastfeeding in the developing world.
The regional average is 22 per cent, putting CEE/CIS about on a par with West/Central Africa, at 20 per cent.
Data from Central and Eastern Europe/and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) are incomplete, so it is unclear whether the region will meet the MDG target. But several countries with sufficient available data are on track.
Only 5 per cent of children are underweight, a lower proportion than in any other developing region. All but three countries with data have single-digit percentages of underweight children, while Croatia and Ukraine have reduced the proportion of underweight children to just 1 per cent. Three countries have reduced underweight prevalence by half or more: Kazakhstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
Stunting and micronutrient deficiencies, or ‘hidden hunger’ give cause for concern. Fourteen countries have reported stunting rates of 10 per cent or higher among children under five. In Albania and Tajikistan, over a third of children are stunted, while in Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, more than a fifth are.
CEE/CIS has a smaller proportion of households consuming iodized salt than any other region, although progress since 2000 has been striking. The next round of Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (2006) is expected to confirm that universal salt iodization has been achieved in six countries, while that goal is expected to be achieved in five other countries in 2006–2007 and in six others by 2008.
Vitamin A deficiency is a concern, especially in Central Asia, where levels among children under five are as high as 53 per cent in Uzbekistan.33
Rates of exclusive breastfeeding are generally low – the average of 22 per cent is lower than in any other region but West/Central Africa. The main exception to this is Tajikistan, where half of all babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Rates are also comparatively high in Kazakhstan and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
In most countries, rates of low birthweight are well under 10 per cent – comparable to those in the industrialized world. The most notable exceptions are Turkey and Tajikistan. Tajikistan also has the highest under-five mortality rate in CEE/CIS, followed by Turkmenistan, both around three times the regional average.
33 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for Uzbekistan (2002) analysed by the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS.