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EACEA National Policies Platform
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

7. Health and Well-Being

7.4 Healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition

Last update: 22 February 2024

National strategy(ies) 

There is no national strategy on healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition. 

Encouraging healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition for young people

The healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition for young people are not the topic of any state level policy or strategy. According to the Global Nutrition Report in 2020, BiH has shown limited progress towards achieving the diet-related non-communicable disease (NCD) targets. The country has shown no progress towards achieving the target for obesity, with an estimated 18.4% of adult (aged 18 years and over) women and 17.1% of adult men living with obesity. BiH's obesity prevalence is lower than the regional average of 23.3% for women and 22.2% for men. At the same time, diabetes is estimated to affect 6.9% of adult women and 8.0% of adult men.

Health and healthy lifestyle education in schools

In 2013, XY Association and the Ministry for Education, Science and Youth of Canton Sarajevo (now called Ministry for Science, Higher Education and Youth of Canton Sarajevo) introduced new subject in primary schools called Healthy lifestyle with integrated chapter on Comprehensive Sexuality Education.

During 2016, Association XY established collaboration with representatives of the Ministry of Education of the Bosnian-Podrinje Canton. Selected experts from the Ministry implemented short assessment for healthy lifestyles subject introduction. The main result of the assessment is that it is necessary to conduct deep, comprehensive, and cross sector review of all school curricula in this canton to identify possibilities for CSE introduction but still not started. A comprehensive programme has only been implemented in the capital, Sarajevo, and not (yet) in the rest of the country. Additionally, this programme is not mandatory and very few pupils (fewer than 10%) choose to attend it.

Peer-to-peer education approaches

Program Y– Youth Innovative Approaches in GBV Prevention and Healthy Lifestyle Promotion for Young Men and Women is a new educational program for the prevention of violence and promotion of healthy lifestyles. The program is accredited in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton and authorized to work in secondary schools in RS. It is also applied in the Sarajevo Canton and Central Bosnia Canton. The Manual for educators in high schools and youth workers Program Y – Youth is a tool that was developed out of the Young Men Initiative by CARE International NW Balkans and its collaborative partners from Western Balkans countries focused on addressing gender inequalities, harmful health practices and violence in everyday life with young men and young women aged 14-19 in schools and the community. The project builds upon CARE's comprehensive and programmatic effort to fight interpersonal and gender-based violence (GBV), as well as to improve gender equality in BiH and address preventative issues related to youth extremism and violence. The project’s overall goal was to increase the uptake of healthy, nonviolent and gender-equitable lifestyles among young men and young women in BiH.

The project is organized and supported by CARE International, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Oak Foundation. It was implemented with the cooperation of local youth and non-governmental organizations: Association “XY” (Sarajevo), Perpetuum Mobile – Institute for Youth and Community Development (Banja Luka), NGO “Youth Power” (Mostar) and youth NGOs: Forum Theatre (East Sarajevo), New Vision, (Novi Travnik), Otaharin (Bijeljina), Zemlja djece u BiH (Tuzla), PRONI Centre for Youth Development (Brcko District BiH), Youth Club “Under the Same Sun” (Jablanica).

Collaboration and partnerships 

There are no national programs of collaboration and partnership in this field. 

Raising awareness on healthy lifestyles and on factors affecting the health and well-being of young people

In 18 municipalities in BiH there is an initiative called Be a Man clubs. This project aims to empower young men (13 to 19 years old) to build attitudes and behaviours that contribute to gender equality in their societies, not choosing and rejecting bullying directed against peers or female persons. The project has been being implemented since 2006 and includes youth from more than 50 towns/municipalities in BiH, Serbia, Kosovo, and Croatia. The project consists of four main parts: Education, Campaign “Be a Man”, Research and Policy Development and Work with Roma population. 

As educational methodology, “Be a Man Club” use is the Manual M which has been developed by the partner organization Promundo (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). The Manual consists of more than 100 educational workshops about: gender equality, violence prevention, healthy lifestyles, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, fatherhood and adulthood. The campaign is run by youth who have gone through educational workshops and thus became members of “Be a Man” clubs. Clubs were established as centres for high school students who want to get engaged into creative promotion of responsible and mature young men values. Members of these clubs conduct interesting activities in order to animate their peers to understand that a real man is not violent, that he respects women and is responsible in sex. Regular work with governmental institutions and local nongovernmental organizations that deal with issues of research on violence, conflicts, gender norms, health, and fatherhood aim to advocate for a governmental program methodology in regard to work with young men in schools and create conditions needed for empowering the youth sector on local and national levels. Since 2010, young Roma have been involved in project activities as a vital part of this project. Work with young Roma largely completes the project and raises it to a higher level. So far there have been three training sessions for young Roma on topics: sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention, alcohol and drug abuse.

During the past years, more than 2000 young men and over 500 young women were directly involved in this project (through education and campaign). More than 300 young individuals attended educational workshops per years, while more than 200 young men and women were engaged in the work of “Be a Man” clubs. Currently, there are over 40 active members of the “Be a Man” club in BD BiH. “Be a man” initiatives are additionally implemented in 18 different towns and municipalities in BiH.