Thabo Mbeki States Violence, Not AIDS, is the Leading Killer Among South Africans
South African President Thabo Mbeki yesterday said that violence, not AIDS, is the leading cause of death in his country, Reuters reports. During a BBC interview, Mbeki said, "The largest single cause of death as we sit here is what in the medical statistics is called 'external causes' and that is violence in this society," adding that more than 50% of South Africans between the ages of 16 and 45 will die of "external causes." Mbeki continued, "You cannot say to me I must ignore that and not take into account the fact that the majority of the people in that particular age group, which is the working population, is dying from the violence that is so terrible in this society." Current South African police statistics estimate that South Africa will have a total of approximately 220,000 murders over the next 10 years, while the United Nations estimates that approximately seven million South Africans will die from AIDS-related causes during the same time period. Reuters reports that Mbeki's remarks are "likely to attract further doubts over [his] stance on HIV/AIDS." Mbeki has publicly questioned the causal link between HIV and AIDS, stating that although he believes HIV is one cause of AIDS, he does not believe it is the "only cause" (Reuters, 8/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.