UNICEF works to improve infant and young child nutrition, helping ensure every child has the best possible start in life.
While the some nutrition indicators have improved steadily in recent years, more needs to be done in terms of nutrition, particularly among marginalized communities. Rates of severe wasting and stunting for children in Bosnia and Herzegovina have declined steadily (from 3.5 percent in 2000 to 1.6 percent in 2012, and from 12.1 percent in 2000 to 8.9 percent in 2012 respectively). However, among Roma children in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the wasting rate was 8.3 percent and stunting rate was 21 percent.
Constraints to adequate and improved nutrition include a lack of adequately trained professionals dealing with infant and young child nutrition, limited knowledge among parents on the benefits of breastfeeding and adequate nutrition for young children, and insufficient resources.
UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina has scaled up its Nutrition-Friendly Kindergarten Initiative. As of the end of 2017, all cantons in Bosnia and Herzegovina have at least one accredited nutrition-friendly kindergarten.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a low rate of breastfeeding (19 percent). To encourage breastfeeding and improve overall infant nutrition, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina supported the accreditation of baby-friendly hospitals, conducting a baseline survey of breastfeeding mothers on their experiences, creating protocols for the hospitals to ensure that standards are followed, and preparing staff and management to provide support to new mothers with counselling and information, education and communication materials.
From 2014-2015, the programme Eat Well, Grow Well promoted healthy eating and healthy lifestyles among children, parents, educators, cooks and other employees of preschool institutions in order to reduce obesity and other disorders in the development of preschool children caused by improper diet and unhealthy lifestyles. The programme was coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Science, in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Health, Institute of Public Health, the Association of Chefs, and the NGO Project Hope Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In addition, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina has helped develop several policy guidelines, including:
- Policy for Improvement of Nutrition of Children under the Age of Five in Republika Srpska (adopted by the Government of Republika Srpska in February 2012)
- Guidelines for Healthy Nutrition of Infants, Preschool and School Children (developed in December 2012)
- Policy for Improving Child Nutrition in Federation Bosnia and Herzegovina (Government of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 2013)
- Guidelines for Healthy Nutrition of Children above Three Years of Age in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Government of Federation Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2013)
- Guidelines for Healthy Nutrition of Preschool and School Children (Government of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2012)