15 January 2013

Which province is healthiest?

Latest stats from the South African Institute of Race Relations show that life varies a lot from one province to the next.


Latest stats from the South African Institute of Race Relations show that life varies a lot from one province to the next.

Overall, women outnumber men in the country. Limpopo has the highest proportion of females to males (53.3%). Females outnumber males by 14% in that province. However, there are more males than females in Gauteng and the North West, perhaps because of migrant male labour in those provinces. Males outnumber females by 3% in the North West.

Rural-to-urban migration has continued apace in South Africa and has contributed to Gauteng’s being the most populous province, with almost 24% of the country’s population living there. The province takes up only about 1% of the country’s land area but it has the highest population density (675 people per square kilometre).

The fertility rate of Limpopo was the highest for the period 2006–11 (an average of 2.85 births per woman). Gauteng had the lowest fertility rate (2.10). The more urbanised provinces tend to have lower fertility rates partly because in urban environments the costs of raising a child are higher, there is better education and access to contraception, and there are higher labour participation rates for women.

The number of children who die before the age of five per 1 000 births in 2010 was lowest in the Western Cape (20) and highest in the Free State (31). Although the Free State had a relatively low ranking (7th) in both drinking water (blue drop) and waste water (green drop) quality rankings in 2012, the rate of diarrhoea among children under the age of five is lowest in that province (63 per 1 000).

Poverty and lack of knowledge relating to a proper diet are among the better-known causes of malnutrition. The Western Cape has the lowest rate of malnourished children under five (2.7 per 1 000). This may be related to the fact that the province ranked first in household income as well as in literacy rates.

The presence of HIV/AIDS is evident in all provinces. The 2011 National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence Survey by the Department of Health noted an increase in HIV prevalence in the Free State, Mpumalanga, and the North West between 2010 and 2011. All other provinces showed declines over the same period.

Living conditions

Better service delivery may be part of what attracts people to some provinces. Gauteng, for example, has the best score in the drinking water quality index (98%), and the highest number of government subsidy houses built since 1994. It is also among the four provinces with the lowest number of households using the bucket system (0%).

 The Western Cape has the highest proportion of households having their refuse removed by a municipality (91%) and using electricity for lighting (93%) and cooking (87%). The lowest proportion of households without access to a landline (69%) is in the Western Cape.

(South African Institute of Race Relations Fast Facts Press Release, January 2013)

Visit the South African Institute of Race Relations website more on how the provinces compare.

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