Infant mortality, immunization and breastfeeding

Infant mortality, immunization and breastfeeding

Infant Mortality

Although decreased over the years, infant mortality in Kosovo, still remains the highest compared with the countries in the region.  In 2022, 117 cases of death of newborn babies were recorded.91 Reports of the Department of Neonatology show a decrease of infant mortality rate in the same period compared to 2021. Perinatal health issues, complications of prematurity, anomalies, congenital disorders and infections, are among the causes of infant deaths in Kosovo.

Newborn’s screening is still not being applied in our country. Newborn’s screening is planned to be implemented in 2023 – 2025 Action Plan for maternal and child health, which has been finalized and is expected to be approved after assessing the financial costs.


In Kosovo, it is mandatory for children to be immunized against ten communicable diseases, which are part of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). Vaccinations for these diseases are legally mandatory and children are vaccinated at time frames according to the Law. According to data from the Ministry of Health, the vaccination coverage rate reaches 91%.

Regarding health care, there is a big discrepancy between children living in Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities and children from the general population, where even in the immunization section, there continues to be a low percentage of coverage of children from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities.

An important accomplishment has been the expansion of the Vaccination Calendar with three new vaccines for children, rotavirus vaccine, pneumococcal meningitis vaccine and HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.


In the recent years, there are no published or accessible official data on the breastfeeding rate at the country level. 2020 MICS Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, continues to be a benchmark statistic regarding breastfeeding, with only 32% of newborns being breastfed within the first hour after birth, and only 29% of children under the age of 6 months, data that show a fairly low level of breastfeeding. Whereas, only 16 percent of children under the age of 6 months from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Kosovo are breastfed.

Ministry of Health has already developed home health visits program, with the donor support. According to data provided by the Ministry of Health, so far, visits have happened in 29 municipalities. These visits aim to support breastfeeding practices, healthy eating, identify health problems in children and to improve pregnant women and mother’s health.

In some of Kosovo municipalities, Family Health Centers have started to organize classes for mothers. The purpose of these classes is to influence the improvement of mother and child health through health education of mothers from pre-birth to post-birth process and child care, thus, influencing development in early childhood. Currently, Information Centers for Women’s Health program (ICWH – Classes for mothers) is active in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic in Pristina and in the Main Family Health Centers in 18 municipalities.

  • Perform screening or “screening test” for newborns in public and private health institutions, for the early diagnosis of potential diseases;
  • Organize neonatal transport from regional hospitals to the University Clinical Center of Kosovo – UCCK and increase capacities of the health personnel regarding the neonatal transport. This will affect reduction of infant deaths, since infants are currently being transported by poorly prepared teams and in inadequate conditions;
  • Intensify home visits program by Family Health Centers in all Kosovo municipalities, organize vaccination at home (door-to-door vaccination), support for breastfeeding practices, healthy nutrition and identification of health problems in children, thus, directly contributing to children’s health and their development;
  • Expand and promote Information Centers for Women’s Health (ICWH– Classes for mothers) model in order to promote health education, maternal health during pregnancy, breastfeeding, vaccination and healthy growth;
  • Increase information, awareness and health education through campaigns to improve health practices, family planning, reproductive health and receiving health services;
  • Ministry of Health should propose legal changes to Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Finance, Labor and Transfers, on foreseeing punitive measures for parents who neglect and refuse to vaccinate their children.