TB remains the No 1 killer in South Africa

Diabetes is the leading cause of death among women while more black men die of tuberculosis, the statistician general says.

Despite a decline of the mortality rate in South Africa, tuberculosis (TB) remains the leading cause of death, especially among black males.

Tabling the mortality and causes of death for 2016, statistician general Risenga Maluleke said diseases of the circulatory system were the top underlying natural causes of death for the first time in 21 years.

“As such, the number one cause of mortality in the country remains tuberculosis, albeit declining from 8.3% in 2014 to 6.5% in 2016, followed by diabetes at 5.5%,” he said.

Of the total 456 612 deaths registered in 2016, the majority were men, sitting at 52.7%, with a ratio of 112 male deaths per 100 female deaths.

However, more females were killed by non-communicable diseases, with diabetes being the leading cause of death among women.

When comparing races, Maluleke said Indians and white citizens mostly died from non-communicable diseases, including diabetes and heart diseases, while black and coloured South Africans were mostly killed by TB and diabetes.

“TB is concentrated in males of working ages, peaking at men aged between 40 and 44. Out of the 27 315 people that died from TB, 91.1% of those were blacks,” he said.

As Easter approaches, Maluleke noted a slight increase in accidental deaths during the corresponding period last year, but fatal car accidents and assaults peaked mostly in December.

“Limpopo and Northern Cape have the highest percentage of transport accident deaths at 31.8% and 31.7% respectively,” said Maluleke.

“Western Cape has the highest percentage of deaths due to assault at 24.4%.

“Sixty-six percent of deaths due to injuries, such as accidents and assault, are for males aged between 20 and 24 years.”

The stats suggest females outlive males by 9.3 years.


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