Decrease in infant mortality in South Africa

There has been a marked decrease in child mortality rates in South Africa, according to the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), which says this is indicative of improved child health in the country.

infant mortality - Brand South Africa
From 2001 to 2014, severe malnutrition rates among under-fives dropped from 12.5 per 1 000 children to 4.5 per 1 000 children.

There has been a marked decrease in child mortality rates in South Africa, according to the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), which says this is indicative of improved child health in the country.

The IRR made this finding in its latest South Africa Survey, published this month. The institute is a classically liberal think-tank.

It found that the under-five mortality rate had declined from 77.2 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2002 to 45.1 deaths per 1 000 live births deaths in 2015. The institute also found that deaths of infants under one year of age declined from 51.2 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2002 to 34. 4 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2015.

According to the IRR, poor access to health care services, especially immunisation programmes; malnutrition; and poor living conditions were three of the leading contributors to child deaths.

It found that:

  • Immunisation rates had steadily increased in South Africa. In 2001, 67% of children under one year of age were immunised. This increased to 89.8% in 2014.
  • The rollout of social grants had probably contributed to preventing child deaths. Social grant beneficiaries as a percentage of the total national population increased from 9% in 2001 to 30% in 2015. This had undoubtedly contributed to raising living standards.
  • From 2001 to 2014, severe malnutrition rates among under-fives dropped from 12.5 per 1 000 children to 4.5 per 1 000 children.

“Although these figures are encouraging, South Africa still has a high infant mortality rate, especially compared to other emerging markets and the developed world,” said IRR analyst Gerbrandt van Heerden.

“Data from the World Bank shows that the under-five mortality rate in Germany was 3.9 deaths for every 1 000 live births. Therefore, South African policymakers still have some way to go in ensuring that our child health indicators reach global norms. Better public health care services are part of the solution but rising economic growth and employment levels will do just as much, if not more, to improve the conditions of South Africa’s children.”

The South Africa Survey has been published annually by the IRR since 1948 in the interests of advancing fact-based policy making.

Source: Institute of Race Relations