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What are the top causes of death in South Africa? 

 

The top twenty single underlying causes of death in South Africa are shown in Tables 1 and 2 and Figure 1 below from the Revised Burden of Disease estimates for the Comparative Risk Factor Assessment for South Africa, 2000 (pdf format 259 kb). The tables show the ranking for persons, males and females while in the figure these are ranked by the persons total. The largest single cause of death is HIV/AIDS accounting for 132990 (25.5%) deaths. This is at least five times greater than the next largest single cause of death. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke follow with about 6.5% of the deaths and tuberculosis and interpersonal violence are next in the ranking, each accounting for about 5.5% of deaths. Males have higher proportions of deaths due to homicide/violence, tuberculosis and road traffic accidents than females. Females have higher proportions of deaths due to HIV/AIDS, stroke, hypertensive heart diseases and diabetes mellitus. These estimates do differ from those of the Initial Burden of Disease estimates for South Africa, 2000 (pdf format 457 kb) which are shown in comparable Tables 3 and 4 and Figure 2. The main differences arise from revising the estimates to reflect the deaths in the calendar year of 2000 and not from the middle of 2000 to the middle of 2001, as well as revising down the estimate of injury deaths as a result of more recent empirical data. Despite the differences, the overall profile remains that of a quadruple burden which is dominated by HIV/AIDS but also has the conditions associated with under-development, chronic diseases and injuries.

Table 1: Numbers of deaths by cause for persons, males and females, South Africa 2000 -Revised

Persons

Males

Females

Rank

Cause of death

Deaths

Rank

Cause of death

Deaths

Rank

Cause of death

Deaths

1

HIV/AIDS

132990

1

HIV/AIDS

64418

1

HIV/AIDS

68572

2

Ischaemic heart disease

34402

2

Interpersonal violence

23041

2

Stroke

20353

3

Stroke

33866

3

Tuberculosis

18721

3

Ischaemic heart disease

16666

4

Tuberculosis

28907

4

Ischaemic heart disease

17736

4

Hypertensive disease

11433

5

Interpersonal violence

27563

5

Stroke

13513

5

Lower respiratory infections

11367

6

Lower respiratory infections

22910

6

Lower respiratory infections

11543

6

Tuberculosis

10186

7

Hypertensive disease

16648

7

Road traffic accidents

11207

7

Diabetes mellitus

8748

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

16006

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

8012

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

7994

9

Road traffic accidents

15993

9

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

7862

9

Low birth weight

5326

10

Diabetes mellitus

13546

10

Low birth weight

6270

10

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

4905

11

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

12768

11

Hypertensive disease

5214

11

Road traffic accidents

4785

12

Low birth weight

11597

12

Diabetes mellitus

4798

12

Interpersonal violence

4521

13

Asthma

7006

13

Trachea/ bronchi/ lung cancer

4669

13

Cervix cancer

3498

14

Trachea/ bronchi/ lung cancer

6885

14

Suicide

4194

14

Asthma

3468

15

Nephritis/nephrosis

6760

15

Oesophageal cancer

3566

15

Nephritis/ nephrosis

3461

16

Septicaemia

6234

16

Asthma

3538

16

Septicaemia

3316

17

Oesophageal cancer

5579

17

Cirrhosis of liver

3399

17

Breast cancer

3156

18

Protein-energy malnutrition

5499

18

Nephritis/ nephrosis

3299

18

Inflammatory heart disease

2783

19

Suicide

5461

19

Protein-energy malnutrition

2989

19

Protein-energy malnutrition

2510

20

Cirrhosis of liver

5442

20

Septicaemia

2919

20

Trachea/ bronchi/ lung cancer

2510

 

All causes

521082

 

All causes

274084

 

All causes

246998

Table 2: Percentage of deaths by cause for persons, males and females, South Africa, 2000 - Revised

Persons

Males

Females

Rank

Cause of death

%

Rank

Cause of death

%

Rank

Cause of death

%

1

HIV/AIDS

25.5

1

HIV/AIDS

23.5

1

HIV/AIDS

27.8

2

Ischaemic heart disease

6.6

2

Interpersonal violence

8.4

2

Stroke

8.2

3

Stroke

6.5

3

Tuberculosis

6.8

3

Ischaemic heart disease

6.7

4

Tuberculosis

5.5

4

Ischaemic heart disease

6.5

4

Hypertensive disease

4.6

5

Interpersonal violence

5.3

5

Stroke

4.9

5

Lower respiratory infections

4.6

6

Lower respiratory infections

4.4

6

Lower respiratory infections

4.2

6

Tuberculosis

4.1

7

Hypertensive disease

3.2

7

Road traffic accidents

4.1

7

Diabetes mellitus

3.5

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

3.1

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

2.9

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

3.2

9

Road traffic accidents

3.1

9

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

2.9

9

Low birth weight

2.2

10

Diabetes mellitus

2.6

10

Low birth weight

2.3

10

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

2.0

11

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

2.5

11

Hypertensive disease

1.9

11

Road traffic accidents

1.9

12

Low birth weight

2.2

12

Diabetes mellitus

1.8

12

Interpersonal violence

1.8

13

Asthma

1.3

13

Trachea/ bronchi/ lung cancer

1.7

13

Cervix cancer

1.4

14

Trachea/ bronchi/ lung cancer

1.3

14

Suicide

1.5

14

Asthma

1.4

15

Nephritis/nephrosis

1.3

15

Oesophageal cancer

1.3

15

Nephritis/ nephrosis

1.4

16

Septicaemia

1.2

16

Asthma

1.3

16

Septicaemia

1.3

17

Oesophageal cancer

1.1

17

Cirrhosis of liver

1.2

17

Breast cancer

1.3

18

Protein-energy malnutrition

1.1

18

Nephritis/ nephrosis

1.2

18

Inflammatory heart disease

1.1

19

Suicide

1.0

19

Protein-energy malnutrition

1.1

19

Protein-energy malnutrition

1.0

20

Cirrhosis of liver

1.0

20

Septicaemia

1.1

20

Trachea/ bronchi/ lung cancer

1.0

  

All causes

100

  

All causes

100

   

All causes

100

Figure 1 Leading causes of mortality, South Africa 2000 - Revised

Leading causes of mortality, South Africa 2000

Table 3: Numbers of deaths by cause for persons, males and females, South Africa 2000 (Initial Burden of Disease Study)

Persons Males Females

Rank

Cause of death

Deaths

Rank

Cause of death

Deaths

Rank

Cause of death

Deaths

1

HIV/AIDS

165859

1

HIV/AIDS

80089

1

HIV/AIDS

85770

2

Ischaemic heart disease

32919

2

Homicide/
violence

27134

2

Stroke

18184

3

Homicide/
violence

32485

3

Tuberculosis

19806

3

Ischaemic heart disease

14539

4

Stroke

32114

4

Ischaemic heart disease

18380

4

Lower respiratory infections

10430

5

Tuberculosis

29553

5

Stroke

13930

5

Tuberculosis

9748

6

Lower respiratory infections

22097

6

Road traffic accidents

13076

6

Hypertensive heart disease

9458

7

Road traffic accidents

18446

7

Lower respiratory infections

11667

7

Diabetes mellitus

8081

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

15910

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

8150

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

7761

9

Hypertensive heart disease

14233

9

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

8102

9

Low birth weight

5427

10

Diabetes mellitus

13157

10

Low birth weight

6449

10

Road traffic accidents

5370

11

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

12473

11

Trachea/bronchi/
lung cancer

5085

11

Homicide/
violence

5351

12

Low birth weight

11876

12

Diabetes mellitus

5076

12

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

4372

13

Nephritis/nephrosis

7225

13

Suicide

4866

13

Nephritis/
nephrosis

3505

14

Trachea/bronchi/
lung cancer

7173

14

Hypertensive heart disease

4774

14

Cervix cancer

3424

15

Asthma

6987

15

Oesophageal cancer

3886

15

Asthma

3227

16

Suicide

6370

16

Asthma

3760

16

Septicaemia

3057

17

Septicaemia

6047

17

Nephritis/
nephrosis

3720

17

Breast cancer

3009

18

Oesophageal cancer

5803

18

Cirrhosis of liver

3704

18

Inflammatory heart disease

2559

19

Cirrhosis of liver

5672

19

Protein-energy malnutrition

3039

19

Protein-energy malnutrition

2471

20

Protein-energy malnutrition

5511

20

Septicaemia

2990

20

Trachea/bronchi/
lung cancer

2088

 

All causes

556585

 

All causes

303081

 

All causes

253504

Table42: Percentage of deaths by cause for persons, males and females, South Africa, 2000 (Initial Burden of Disease Study)

Persons Males Females
Rank Cause of death % Rank Cause of death % Rank Cause of death %

1

HIV/AIDS

29.8

1

HIV/AIDS

26.4

1

HIV/AIDS

33.8

2

Ischaemic heart disease

5.9

2

Homicide/
violence

9.0

2

Stroke

7.2

3

Homicide/
violence

5.8

3

Tuberculosis

6.5

3

Ischaemic heart disease

5.7

4

Stroke

5.8

4

Ischaemic heart disease

6.1

4

Lower respiratory infections

4.1

5

Tuberculosis

5.3

5

Stroke

4.6

5

Tuberculosis

3.8

6

Lower respiratory infections

4.0

6

Road traffic accidents

4.3

6

Hypertensive heart disease

3.7

7

Road traffic accidents

3.3

7

Lower respiratory infections

3.8

7

Diabetes mellitus

3.2

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

2.9

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

2.7

8

Diarrhoeal diseases

3.1

9

Hypertensive heart disease

2.6

9

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

2.7

9

Low birth weight

2.1

10

Diabetes mellitus

2.4

10

Low birth weight

2.1

10

Road traffic accidents

2.1

11

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

2.2

11

Trachea/bronchi/
lung cancer

1.7

11

Homicide/
violence

2.1

12

Low birth weight

2.1

12

Diabetes mellitus

1.7

12

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

1.7

13

Nephritis/
nephrosis

1.3

13

Suicide

1.6

13

Nephritis/
nephrosis

1.4

14

Trachea/bronchi/
lung cancer

1.3

14

Hypertensive heart disease

1.6

14

Cervix cancer

1.4

15

Asthma

1.3

15

Oesophageal cancer

1.3

15

Asthma

1.3

16

Suicide

1.1

16

Asthma

1.2

16

Septicaemia

1.2

17

Septicaemia

1.1

17

Nephritis/
nephrosis

1.2

17

Breast cancer

1.2

18

Oesophageal cancer

1.0

18

Cirrhosis of liver

1.2

18

Inflammatory heart disease

1.0

19

Cirrhosis of liver

1.0

19

Protein-energy malnutrition

1.0

19

Protein-energy malnutrition

1.0

20

Protein-energy malnutrition

1.0

20

Septicaemia

1.0

20

Trachea/bronchi/
lung cancer

0.8

  

All causes

100

  

All causes

100

   

All causes

100

Figure 2 Leading causes of mortality, South Africa 2000 (Initial Burden of Disease Study)

Leading causes of mortality, South Africa 2000

Authors: Dr Rosana Norman, Prof Debbie Bradshaw, Michelle Schneider, Desiree Pieterse and Dr Pam Groenewald

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Last updated:
10 December, 2014
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