Death rate among youth on the decrease in SA

The death rate in South Africa, particularly among young adults, is on the decrease, according to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

Its report on mortality rates and the causes of death in 2009, released at a press conference in Pretoria this week, revealed that the death rate had decreased overall, with the female death rate declining at a faster rate than that of males, especially among young adults.

Dr Maletela Tuoane-Nkhasi, the manager of births and deaths at Stats SA, said the report was an attempt to gain an understanding of the dynamics of living in South Africa and the circumstances of death. It would aid in the allocation of resources and in planning for future healthcare services, as well as in the treatment and prevention of disease.

Death among infants and adolescents has decreased and the mortality rate in the over-55 age group has increased. The percentage of non-natural deaths has been in a steady decline since 1997; 17.1% of deaths were deemed non-natural in 1997 and only 8.6% in 2009. Non-natural causes include assault, vehicle accidents and fatal injuries.

Data from 1997 to 2005 showed deaths among women increasing at a higher rate than those of men. However, reports from 2006 show that this trend has been reversed and female deaths continued to decrease in 2009.

Most male deaths occurred in the age group 35 to 39, whereas most female deaths took place in the 30 to 34 age group.

Among natural deaths, tuberculosis (TB) is the leading killer. Overall, however, TB deaths are decreasing, with the exception of multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant TB.

Kefiloe Masiteng, the deputy director general of population and social statistics, said 80% of all TB deaths in the country, were HIV related. HIV was ranked sixth on the list of 10 diseases underlying natural causes of death for males and females.

Stats SA collected its data from death-notification forms registered at the department of home affairs and processing that information could take 18 months, said Tuoane-Nkhasi. But the information on the forms was often incomplete or inaccurate, as almost half of all deaths did not occur in healthcare facilities.

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