Infant deaths report grim reading
Cape Town - Infant mortality rates, a measure of the number of babies that die in the first year of life, are lower in Botswana and Namibia than they are in South Africa.
According to a table of indicators contained in the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) "State of World Population 2010" report, released on Wednesday, infant mortality in South Africa is 43 per 1 000 live births.
The rates in Botswana and Namibia are 32 and 30 respectively.
Other Southern African neighbours have higher rates of infant deaths: 65 per 1 000 live births in Lesotho; 83 in Mozambique; 59 in Swaziland; and 51 in Zimbabwe.
The report says the data estimates are for this year, and the source is the UN's Population Division (UNPD).
On life expectancy, the report shows this is considerably higher, for both males and females, in Botswana and Namibia than in South Africa.
According to the table, life expectancy in Namibia is 61.2 and 62.7 years, for males and females respectively.
In Botswana the figures are 55.7 and 55.0 years, and in South Africa 50.6 and 53.2 years.
The 2010 report also contains a comparison, by country, of reproductive health indicators, including births per 1 000 woman aged 15-19, and contraceptive and HIV prevalence rates.
It says that in sub-Saharan Africa, the Southern Africa region has by far the lowest adolescent birth rate - 61 per 1 000 girls - and the highest contraceptive prevalence, at 59% for all methods and 58% for so-called modern methods.
"In contrast, the rest of the sub-regions in sub-Saharan Africa (these include Eastern, Middle and Western Africa) have adolescent birth rates well over 100 per 1 000 girls, and contraceptive prevalence rates at 26% or less."
The report says "modern methods" of contraception include "male and female sterilisation, IUD (intra-uterine device), the pill, injectables, hormonal implants, condoms and female barrier methods".
The data, from the UNPD, was derived from surveys conducted among women aged 15 to 49.
On HIV prevalence rates, South Africa and its neighbours stand out way above other countries in the world.
Swaziland has the highest prevalence rate - 26.1% of those aged 15 to 49 - followed by Botswana, 23.9%; Lesotho, 23.2%; South Africa, 18.1%; Namibia and Zimbabwe, both 15.3%; and Zambia, 15.2%.
By comparison, India has an HIV prevalence rate of 0.3%, and Brazil 0.6%.
In a separate table of demographic, social and economic indicators, the report says South Africa's population of 50.5 million will rise to 56.8 million by 2050.
The total population of Africa, currently (2010) just over one billion, will almost double - to 1.998 billion - over the next 40 years.