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NCDs still the main cause of death in South Africa – Time for action

For the first time, since 1997 diseases of the circulatory system (18,5%) was the top ranking group followed by certain infectious and parasitic disease (18,2%).  It also was the first time NCDs were leading underlying  cause of death in 2 provinces, Western Cape and Gauteng. (p. 42)

NCDs accounted for 57.4% of deaths in 2016 while communicable diseases were responsible for 31,3% of deaths. This confirms that South Africa is in the midst of epidemiological change.

The annual Statistics SA cause of death report for 2016 which provides information on levels, trends and patterns in mortality by socio-demographic and geographic characteristics. While the main focus is on 2016, death occurrences, information on deaths that occurred during 1997 to 2015 is included.

10 Leading causes of death (¶4.7.1 Table 4.5 p. 32)

  1. TB 6.5% (with declining proportions that are down from 8,3% in 2014)
  2. Diabetes mellitus 5,5%
  3. Other forms of heart disease 5,1%
  4. Cerebrovascular diseases 5,1%
  5. HIV disease 4,8% (static since 2014)
  6. Hypertensive diseases 4.4%
  7. Influenza and pneumonia 4,3%
  8. Other viral diseases 3,6%
  9. Ischaemic heart disease 2,8%
  10. Lower respiratory disease 2,8%

Leading cause of death by age and sex -“twin peaks”

In 2016 most female deaths were attributable were due to diabetes (7,2%) and male deaths were attributable to TB (7,6%). For females TB moved from the 3rd position in 2015 to the 5th position in 2016, while among males diabetes ranked 6th in both 2015 and 2016.  (¶4.7.2 Table 4.5 p. 32)
The death statistics by age and sex have important implications for health programmes at different ages. Take a look and let us know what you think.   There are twin NCDs peaks between 5-14 years and from 45 years onward. What is the cause of childhood NCDs deaths due to? Childhood cancers? This needs further analysis.

The “non-natural” causes of death (violence and trauma) are higher in males that females at all ages peaking between 5-34 years.

Metro or health district and NCDs
Other forms of heart diseases were the leading cause of death at eThekwini, Johannesburg and Tshwane. Diabetes leading rates was the leading underlying cause of death for City of Cape Town in Western Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay in Eastern Cape.  (¶ 4.7.7 p.42)

Provincial differences
NCDs, diabetes and other forms of circulatory disease, are the leading causes in Western Cape and Gauteng.

TB was top-ranked in most other provinces as the leading single cause of death.

Overall, the results show a considerable burden of disease from NCDs  and of concern is the sizable proportion of deaths associated with diabetes, particularly for females.

South Africa death statistics show growing tide of NCDs and a declining but still high prevalence of communicable diseases. These findings are essential for evidence-based decision making and for planning to meet the demand for appropriate public health services and interventions.

In 2016, 22,6% of deaths occur at home instead of health care facilities which may impact on the accuracy of the certification of causes of deaths.

Click here to download the full PDF report

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