For centuries, Bosnians have relied on ancient herbal remedies to treat ailments; the Herzegovina region is known for its production of healing plants and medicines. Since Roman times, people have also found relief at the numerous mineral springs and healing spas located in central and northern Bosnia. Mineral springs and mud baths are said to be especially good for the bones and for chronic ailments such as arthritis, as well as for specific disorders. Often these centres are designed to be pleasant, restful places, with gardens, hotels and entertainment.
Before World War II, organized medical care was inadequate in the Balkan states. Bosnia and Herzegovina had few doctors; widespread inadequate nutrition and hygiene contributed to disease. Deaths from diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and typhus were higher in the Balkans than anywhere in Europe.
After World War II, the government modernized Yugoslavia’s health care system and introduced medical insurance. Bosnia and Herzegovina now has an expanded clinical and hospital network, as well as private services. Bosnians receive universal health care through their workplaces. Children, students and seniors over 65 also receive general medical insurance, while farmers and self-employed people can enroll in the government's program by paying premiums. Benefits include dental care, treatment for work-related ailments, prescription drugs, birth control and family-planning programs, generous maternity leave and paid leave for mothers needing to care for their sick children. Some benefits are also available for the handicapped, people with addictions and the destitute. However, despite much progress, most services have remained concentrated in urban areas; standards of care in rural areas are much lower.
As a result of better health care, life expectancy and standards of health have risen. Tragically, the recent war has severely disrupted the country’s health care system. Government funds normally allocated to health are currently going toward emergency relief for the hundreds of thousands who have been left homeless or as refugees. Many affected by war also face diseases such as cholera and diphtheria, as well as psychological trauma. Numerous countries and foreign organizations have been helping rebuild the country’s health care system.