Diseases impacting Kosovo Kosovo, the second youngest country in the world, is one of many nations struggling with an increase in non-communicable diseases. Treating and preventing the diseases impacting Kosovo is more difficult than in other European nations because of Kosovo’s status as the second poorest European country, alongside having a significant percentage of its population (40%) that is under 25 years old.

Causes of Disease

In 2017, 21.6% of adults in Kosovo reported having a chronic non-communicable disease, with cardiovascular disease being the most common cause of mortality and morbidity. Respiratory and malignant diseases, along with diabetes, are also common.

There are a number of causes that can be attributed to the rise in non-communicable diseases. A 2022 Frontiers article found that there are high levels of smoking, physical inactivity and obesity in Kosovo. Additionally, poor nutrition is a widespread issue in the nation, with 85% of adults not getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in their diets.

According to a 2021 UNICEF report, 23% of people living in Kosovo are in poverty. Individuals who are living below the poverty line are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases. For example, adults living in poverty who suffer from type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to face diabetes-related mortality compared to those who earn the highest income, according to Diabetes Care.

Treatment Challenges

The level of concern for the overall health of the Kosovo population is low because of the predominantly young population, according to a 2023 article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. However, because of noticeable changes in lifestyle trends and environmental factors, the nation could face difficulties in both detecting and treating non-communicable diseases in the future.

Because Kosovo became a country just 15 years ago, the nation’s health care system is still underdeveloped and inadequately funded. As a result, it is challenging to provide enough medical supplies and treatment for the population. Supply chain faults have caused shortages in medical supplies and a low supply of well-trained medical staff — Kosovo only has 1.44 physicians per 1,000 residents (compared to 3.4 per 1,000 residents across the European Union as a whole) — has presented challenges in the ability to provide treatment against diseases impacting Kosovo, according to the same article.

Treatment Improvements

Initiatives like Project HOPE have worked alongside Kosovo’s Ministry of Health to help combat these challenges. According to its website, Project HOPE has donated much-needed items, such as consumer disposable products, medical equipment and pharmaceutical drugs, to clinics and hospitals in the country.

Additionally, Project HOPE trains medical staff to better treat and detect non-communicable diseases. The organization has donated more than $60 million since 2010 to improve the medical industry in Kosovo.

The Kosovo government has also initiated plans to improve the health of low-income families. In 2019, it drafted Kosovo’s Social Assistance Program (SAS) which aims to reduce poverty and eliminate the cost of health insurance premiums and services for families relying on SAS.

Looking Ahead

The increasing emergence of non-communicable diseases impacting Kosovo is putting a strain on the newly founded nation. Despite the challenges, the country is making progress with the help of donations and programs like Project HOPE to equip the health care system with the required tools and skills to maintain a healthy population.

– Tristan Weisenbach
Photo: Flickr

NGOs in KosovoA country still coping with the repercussions of conflict and economic hardships, Kosovo continues to experience a rise in food poverty. Hence, to address this issue, NGOs in Kosovo including Rahma (Mercy) and Mohanji Act Foundation, continue acting in response to the food insecurity issues affecting residents. These NGOs are implementing innovative strategies and collaborating to ensure that everyone can access nutritious meals.


Between 1998 and 1999, Kosovo went through a devastating war that resulted in the expulsion of approximately 800,000 Kosovans. However, the successful signing of the Peace Agreement enabled 90% of Albanians to return, bringing the overall population to an estimated 1,600,000. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has coordinated with around 200 humanitarian organizations to assist in rebuilding through the provision of aid, including food, medical care, shelter, water and sanitation.

Rahma Mercy

Established in 1999, the Rahma (Mercy) is an NGO that prides itself in providing assistance to alleviate suffering within the Balkan region. Supporting countries like Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, North Macedonia and Kosovo, the Rahma (Mercy) NGO aims to mobilize resources and people to offer affected communities emergency help, including food, water, shelter and medical care.

Generating an income of around £2.83 million in 2022, Rahma (Mercy) aims to help alleviate the effect of food poverty in Kosovo by offering grants to individuals or other organizations; providing finances or services; advocating for human rights. Its efforts have been important in helping to save lives and provide crucial aid.

While relieving food poverty is a concern, Rahma (Mercy) further prides itself on implementing projects targeted toward encouraging sustainable change, through investing in education, housing and health care.

Like many other NGOs, Rahma (Mercy) relies on the kindness and generosity of both donors and volunteers. Its dedication to transparency and accountability is evident in its open disclosure of financial information.

Mohanji Act Foundation

The Mohanji Foundation has a primary goal of reducing suffering among populations. The foundation aims to prevent and relieve poverty, through overseas aid and famine relief projects. Operating in Kosovo among many other countries like Ukraine and Sri Lanka, it achieves this by mobilizing resources such as food and water, providing services and making grants to organizations.

Additionally, it aids the homeless through their food donation programs. Its global platform, ACT4Hunger, is inspired by Mohanji and is used to facilitate food donations.

Looking Ahead

Though NGOs encounter various obstacles in providing aid, the relief efforts in Kosovo to tackle food poverty, have demonstrated the possibility of effective collaboration between local partners and the community. These organizations strive to promote sustainable change and also engage with policymakers to address the underlying causes of food poverty.

– Erdona Sopa
Photo: Unsplash