MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality
According to official statistical data, the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births decreased by 35% from 7.6 in 2000 to 5.0 in 2012 and thus the goal of reducing the infant mortality rate to 5.0 in BiH has been achieved. This constitutes significant and continuous improvement in comparison to post-war years when the infant mortality rate was 14 in 1996. The estimated under-five child mortality rates in BiH have also declined by 20% from 9.6 in 2000 to 7.7 in 2011. Assuming that the causes of child death are accurately reported in BiH, it can be concluded that a further reduction in child mortality in the country will depend increasingly on addressing preventable neonatal mortality. Low infant birth weight is one of the key risk factors that are associated with increased morbidity and mortality in children. The percentage of infants weighing less than 2,500 grams has also decreased from 4% in 2000 to 3.1% in 2011/2012.
Breastfeeding in the first few years of life protects children from infection, provides an ideal source of nutrients and is economical and safe. Approximately 19% of children aged less than six months in BiH were exclusively breastfed, while nearly half of these children in BiH were predominately breastfed (46%). Fifteen per cent of children were exclusively breastfed in the FBiH and this percentage in RS was about 32%, while the percentage of predominantly breastfed children aged less than six months was 42% in the FBiH and 63% in RS.
However, the situation regarding mortality rates and the health of Roma children in BiH is alarming. The infant mortality rate and child mortality rate remain extremely high at 24 and 27 respectively, which indicates that Roma children are three to four times more likely to die at birth, during their first year of life or in the first five years of their life than children from the general population. While 3% of children are born with less than 2,500 grams 14% of Roma children are underweight at birth. Perhaps the greatest inequalities are evident in terms of the immunisation rates: only 4% of Roma children are immunised compared to 68% of children from the general population.
In terms of child wellbeing in BiH, apart from the comprehensive measures that need to be addressed for Roma children and children from other vulnerable groups, further effort needs to be made to ensure universal vaccination for all children, provide alternatives to the institutionalisation of children with special needs and further strengthen measures for child protection and the prevention of violence against children.
Although BiH is not among those countries that report high mortality rates a lot can still be done to prevent the violations of child rights. Many challenges lie ahead in terms of the equality of children and although the mortality rate has declined in BiH it remains three times higher amongst the Roma population.