Fewer South Africans dying in recent years

2014-09-04 11:53

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The number of people dying in South Africa is decreasing, Statistician-General Pali Lehohla has said.

“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 today.

“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 and was responsible for 11% 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. The human immunodeficiency virus was responsible for 3.9% 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% of deaths of children in that age group.

Children also died from intestinal infections, influenza, pneumonia, malnutrition and TB.

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

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

Diabetes mellitus was the leading cause of death in the Western Cape, accounting for 6.7% 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 killers and accounted for 9.7% 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. This was followed by Gauteng, which lost 7 637 people.

The study found that 9.8% of total deaths in 2012 were due to “nonnatural causes”. Transport accidents contributed 11.2%, followed by fatal assaults at more than 10% of the tally.

More men died from nonnatural causes than women.

Statistics SA said the proportion of nonnatural 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.

» This article was updated after first published.

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