01 February 2012

Most common causes of death in SA

According to the South African Survey released in early January 2012, South Africa’s biggest killer is tuberculosis.


According to the South African Survey released in early January 2012, South Africa’s biggest killer is tuberculosis. The Survey was published by the South African Institute of Race Relations.

The leading cause of death among African people is tuberculosis (TB), followed by influenza and pneumonia, and intestinal infectious diseases such as cholera. Coloured people also die predominantly from TB, but this is followed by diabetes and chronic lower respiratory diseases. This is according to data sourced from Statistics South Africa in November 2010 and analysed in the Survey.

Diabetes is the leading cause of death among Indian people, followed by ischaemic heart diseases, and other forms of heart disease. White people die predominantly from ischaemic heart diseases, followed by other forms of heart disease, and cerebrovascular diseases.

Ms Lerato Moloi of the research department at the Institute said that when looking at the causes of death for each for each population group, it is important to note that socio-economic conditions play a significant role. ‘Heart disease is often linked to unhealthy lifestyles associated with middle and upper-class living standards, whereas intestinal infectious diseases, such as cholera, are linked to things such as contaminated drinking water typically associated with poor living standards.’

While HIV is among the top 10 leading causes of death for African people, this is not the case for coloured people, Indian people, or white people. Since TB is an opportunistic disease of HIV, this may explain why the TB mortality rate is so high among African people.

(SAIRR, Press release, January 2012)


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