Official South African Death Statistics Due By End of Year
Official South African mortality figures for 1997 through 2000, which could lend support to a new report labeling AIDS the nation's leading killer, will be released by the end of the year, according to Statistician-General Pali Lehohla, South Africa's Business Day reports. Stats SA, the goverment's official statistics agency, has had difficulty compiling the figures because AIDS-related deaths are "often recorded under other causal categories" and researchers have been "forced to use indirect measurements rather than simply count[ing] the number" of AIDS-related deaths, a joint statement from the agency, the departments of health and home affairs and the national communication service said. News of the Stats SA report comes as the government is being accused of "deliberately delaying" the release of a report by the South African Medical Research Council that determined AIDS was responsible for the majority of the nation's deaths, killing 40% of South Africans between the ages of 15 and 49 last year. President Thabo Mbeki has disputed this finding, saying that external causes such as violence and poverty are the nation's largest killers. It is unclear whether the Stats SA report will refute or support the MRC data. The government declined to comment on the MRC report, which was leaked in the Sunday Times last weekend, saying that "[s]ince the release of the Stats SA's official mortality figures is expected within a few months, detailed government comment on the (council's) research will be reserved until it is possible to review the two sets of figures in relation to each other." The MRC findings were presented to the home affairs, health department and Stats SA heads on Sept. 3 and are scheduled to be presented to the social ministers and cabinet in the near future, the government said (Business Day, 9/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.