Diseases / Physical / Research

New report suggests South Africans are living longer

By Kerstin Hall

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The biggest killer in the Eastern Cape remains Tuberculosis (TB), which was responsible for 11.4% of the total number of deaths for the province in 2011. In the Cacadu region, TB accounts for 12.6% of deaths. On 18 March 2014, Statistics South Africa released its most recent report on mortality rates and trends in the country. The report investigated the number of deaths and the range of factors which contributed to them, focusing on deaths in 2011 and comparing the rates to earlier years.

TB was still South Africa’s leading cause of death, a position it has held for 14 years. TB caused 10.7% of the deaths in the country in 2011. Other powerful killers were influenza and pneumonia, which combined accounted for 6.6% of the deaths for 2011.

For the Eastern Cape, these illnesses accounted for a slightly smaller percentage, causing 4.0% of the deaths for the province.

People between the ages of 35 and 39 suffered from the highest percentage of deaths when compared to other age groups; 7.8% of the people who died in 2011 were in this age bracket. This was consistent with earlier years.

Infant mortality rates are still extremely high, with approximately 40 children out of every 1000 born in South Africa never seeing their first birthday. In 2011, there were 28 085 infant deaths.

KwaZulu Natal was the province which recorded the highest percentage of deaths in South Africa, at 20,7%, closely followed by Gauteng at 19,9% and then Eastern Cape at 14,4%. The province with the least deaths proportional to the size of their population was the Northern Cape, with only 2.9% of deaths for 2011 occurring there.

It was also demonstrated that deaths from “non-natural” causes, i.e. violence and road accidents, have increased marginally in comparison to 2010, from 8.9 out of 100 deaths to 9.1 out of a 100. This is still a great reduction from the figures of 1997, where 17.1 deaths out of 100 were a result of non-natural causes.

However, in the Cacadu area, the percentage is higher at 9.1%. A total of 422 people died in the area from non-natural causes in 2011.

On average, South African women live longer than their male counterparts. Woman in South Africa live on average 52.5 years, while men survive only 49.0 years on average. The life expectancy of the average South African was 52.6 years. Life expectancy has been steadily increasing since 2006, where it hit a low of 50.9 years. This has been widely attributed to the prevalence of HIV and Aids.

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