Decline in South Africa’s mortality rate continues

19 March 2014

The number of deaths in South Africa decreased by 7.7% between 2010 and 2011, as a downward trend in mortality that started in 2007 gained further momentum, Statistics SA’s Mortality and Causes of Death in South Africa Report for 2011 reveals.

“The downward trend observed since 2007 in the number of deaths occurring in the country per year continues,” Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said at the release of the report in Pretoria on Tuesday, noting that a total of 505 803 deaths were registered in 2011.

“The number of deaths between 2010 and 2011 decreased by 7.7%, while during 2009-2010 and 2008-2009 the number of deaths decreased by 5.6% and 2.6% respectively, which is an indication that the number of deaths are annually decreasing at an increasing rate.”

The report indicates that communicable diseases are on the decrease in South Africa, especially among females.

The overall decrease in the mortality rate was much higher for females than for males. Between 2010 and 2011, deaths of females decreased by 8.2%, while deaths of males decreased by 7.5%.

Lehohla attributed the overall decrease to the government’s massive intervention to provide treatment to tuberculosis (TB) patients and people living with HIV.

The decrease also coincided with decreases in tuberculosis, influenza, pneumonia and intestinal infectious diseases. “While these causes remain among the 10 leading causes of death in the country, their relative importance in mortality is decreasing over time,” Lehohla said.

“However, among the 10 leading causes of death due to communicable diseases, the proportion of deaths due to HIV disease continues to increase, although at a very slow pace (from 3.1% in 2009 to 3.4% in 2010).”

In recent years, there has been a modest increase in the proportion of deaths due to specific non-communicable diseases, Statistics SA found.

Among the 10 leading causes of death, there was an increase in the proportion of death due to the following causes: other forms of heart disease (particularly heart failure), cerebrovascular disease (largely stroke), diabetes mellitus, and hypertensive diseases.

The contribution of these diseases to the overall number of deaths in 2009 was 15.2%, increasing to 17% in 2011. The proportion of deaths due to injuries also increased slightly, from 8.7% in 2009 to 9.1% in 2011.

The proportion of deaths due to certain infectious and parasitic diseases and respiratory diseases has declined, while there has been an increase in the proportion of deaths due to diseases of the circulatory system; neoplasms (cancers); and endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases.

The Mortality and Causes of Death in South Africa Report for 2011 is based on data collected by the Department of Home Affairs through the country’s death registration system. It is estimated that this system covered 94% of adult deaths in the country during this period.

Source: SAnews.gov.za