South Africa’s mortality rate at its lowest in over a decade

Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death among South Africans, according to data released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday.

Stats SA and the Medical Research Council had helped to train doctors in cause-of-death-certification, which had resulted in more accurate reporting. (Image: Stats SA)

Brand South Africa Reporter

Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death among South Africans, according to data released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday.

The Mortality and Causes of Death Report shows that HIV has risen to become the third leading cause of death in the country. It was in sixth position in 2012.

But Statistician General Pali Lehohla said the rise was because recording deaths from HIV had improved, not because it was actually an increasing cause of death.

Lehohla said Stats SA and the Medical Research Council had helped to train doctors in cause-of-death-certifcation, which had resulted in more accurate reporting.

Death certificates

The report is based on data collected by the Department of Home Affairs through the death registration system. The data comes as South Africa commemorated World Aids Day on 1 December. About 6.4-million South Africans are living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Human Sciences Research Council.

“The number of people that are dying in South Africa has declined . over time,” Lehohla said. The report found that 458&933 people died in 2013 – 6.5% down from 491 100 deaths recorded in 2012. It is the lowest number of deaths since 2002, when 502 797 deaths were registered.

The report found that more males were affected by HIV than females in 2013.

In 2013, the majority of deaths resulted from the main group of certain infectious and parasitic diseases (22,6%), followed by diseases of the circulatory system (16,7%).

Tuberculosis (8.8%) remained the leading cause of death among South Africans, followed by influenza and pneumonia (5.2%), HIV (5.1%), cerebrovascular diseases (4.9%), and diabetes mellitus (4.8%).

Of the total 458 933 deaths reported, 23% were due to infectious and parasitic diseases; 25% were other diseases; while 17% of deaths were due to circulatory system diseases.

Death due to injuries

Rob Dorrington, a professor of actuarial science at the University of Cape Town, told Business Report that the decline in deaths was probably largely attributable to the government’s HIV/AIDS treatment programme, which now reaches 2.7-million people.

The percentage of deaths due to injuries for men was above 60% in the 20-24 age group, while the percentage of deaths due to injuries among women peaked at 28%.

With deaths caused by accidents in the country, Limpopo province had the highest at 30.6% followed by the Northern Cape at 24.1%. Gauteng province had the lowest number at 3.6%. Transport accidents which led to death were shown to peak in June (10.4%) and December (10.1%).

The Northern Cape recorded the highest number of assault-related deaths as a percentage of non-natural deaths at 23.1%. In fact, the Pixley ka Seme district in the Northern Cape has the country’s highest death rate at 19 per 1 000 people. eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal recorded the lowest death rate at 5 per 1 000.

The report also found that 44.2% of South Africans die in hospitals while 23.2% die at home.

The death registration of adults in South Africa was at 94%.

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