04 September 2014

Declining death rate in SA

According to South Africa's Statistician General, despite the country's growing population, fewer people are dying.


The number of people dying in South Africa is dwindling, Statistician General Pali Lehohla said on Thursday.

Victory over the grave

"The sting of death is fading in South Africa. Not only in the context of a growing population, but the numbers are actually declining," he said at the release of the 2012 mortality and causes of death annual report in Pretoria.

Read: Illness the leading cause of death in SA

"There is progressive victory over the grave. In 2011, 512,310 people died, in 2012 a total of 480,476 died. The absolute numbers are decreasing."

Tuberculosis (TB) remained the prime killer, making up 11 percent of deaths. The other seven killer diseases were, influenza and pneumonia, cerebrovascular diseases, heart diseases, diabetes mellitus, HIV, hypertensive diseases, and other viral diseases.

HIV-related deaths were ranked seventh in the 2010 study, but had since moved up to position six, responsible for 3.9 percent of deaths in 2012.

The leading causes of neonatal (0 to 28 days) deaths in 2012 were respiratory and cardiovascular disorders. These ailments caused more than 35 percent of deaths of children in that age group.

Children also succumbed to intestinal infections, influenza and pneumonia, malnutrition, and TB.

The age group from 15 to 24 years succumbed mainly to TB, HIV, influenza and pneumonia.

TB leading cause of death in most provinces

TB was the leading cause of death in all provinces except the Western Cape and Limpopo.

Read: What is TB?

Diabetes mellitus was the leading cause of death in Western Cape, accounting for 6.7 percent of all deaths. Between 1997 and 2011, TB was the leading cause of death in the province.

In Limpopo, influenza and pneumonia were the major killer, accounting for 9.7 percent of deaths.

The highest number of deaths due to TB was recorded in KwaZulu-Natal. A total of 12,826 people died in the province, followed by Gauteng which lost 7637 people.

Non-natural causes

The study found that 9.8 percent of total deaths in 2012 were due to "non-natural causes". Transport accidents contributed 11.2 percent, followed by fatal assaults at more than 10 percent of the tally.

More men died from non-natural causes than women.

In a statement, Statistics SA said the proportion of non-natural deaths continued to increase in 2012.

Total deaths peaked at 604,497 in 2007. The death tally had been decreasing gradually since then.

The drop over the past six years was attributed to a decline in deaths from communicable diseases. Deaths from diarrhoea had decreased substantially in the past three years.

In 2010, intestinal infectious diseases, mainly diarrhoea, were the third-leading natural cause of death in South Africa. In 2012, these diseases occupied ninth position.

Read more:

Low breast-feeding rate linked to early deaths
SA: ageing population a challenge
Childbirth in SA at a proportional record low

Image: South African population from Shutterstock

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