South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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Media statement

19 March 2014

Update on National Mortality Trends - Life expectancy in SA on the increase

The South African Medical Research Council‘s (SAMRC) Burden of Disease Research Unit has released its latest report on mortality in South Africa. The Rapid Mortality Surveillance Report 2012 is the second report in the series that derives estimates of key health status indicators based on data obtained from the National Population Register.

The new report shows that average life expectancy in South Africa continued to increase reaching 61.3 years in 2012 - an increase of 0.6 years since 2011 and a staggering increase of 7 years since the low in 2005. This escalation in life expectancy is due primarily to a drop in the levels of child mortality as well as a decline in levels of young adult mortality.  It also shows that female life expectancy remains higher than male life expectancy by about 5.5 years and that the maternal mortality ratio has dropped to 269 deaths per 100 000 live births in 2010.

The 2012 report, an update of the 2011 Rapid Mortality Report, has had information from the 2011 Census incorporated into it in order to update estimates of the population and the number of births for calculating the rates for each year. It suggests that the key mortality targets to be achieved by the Minister of Health in the Negotiated Service Delivery Agreement for 2014 have all been met with the exception of neonatal mortality which has remained stagnant at 12.5 per 1000 live births. The report also shows that under-5 mortality and infant mortality rates have not improved.

“South Africa is unlikely to achieve the maternal and child health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015 unless it urgently improves the quality of health services for mothers and new-borns; overcomes the challenges experienced with the HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programmes and improves basic living conditions,” says Dr Debbie Bradshaw Director of the MRC Burden of Disease Research Unit. 

The report provides a revised series of estimates based on empirical data that can be used for monitoring progress made by government in improving health of the South African population.

Notes to the media practitioner

Life expectancy and adult mortality

INDICATOR

2009

2010

2011

2012

Life expectancy at birth Total

57.1

58.5

60.5

61.3

Life expectancy at birth Male

54.6

56.0

57.7

58.5

Life expectancy at birth Female 

59.7

61.2

63.3

64.0

Adult mortality (45q15)  Total

46%

43%

40%

38%

Adult mortality (45q15)   Male

51%

48%

46%

44%

Adult mortality (45q15)   Female 

40%

38%

35%

32%

Maternal and child mortality

INDICATOR

2009

2010

2011

2012

Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) per 1 000 live births

56

52

40

41

Infant mortality rate (IMR) per 1 000 live births

39

35

28

27

Neonatal mortality rate1 (<28 days) per 1 000 live births

14

14

13

12

INDICATOR

2008

2009

2010

 

Maternal mortality ratio2 (MMR) per 1 000 live births

280

304

269

 

The full report is available on the Internet at: http://www.mrc.ac.za/bod/RapidMortalitySurveillanceReport2012.pdf

Technical Enquiries
Dr Debbie Bradshaw
Director: Burden of Disease Research Unit
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
Tel: +27 21-938 0427
Email: Debbie.Bradshaw@mrc.ac.za

Media Facilitation
Aziel Gangerdine
Head of Corporate Communications
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
Tel: +27 21 938 0697; Mobile: +27 71 866 9887
Email: Aziel.gangerdine@mrc.ac.za

 
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