Stats SA study shows leading non-communicable deaths in South Africa
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases (including heart attacks), cancer, diabetes, and chronic lower respiratory diseases have marked a significant escalation in mortality rates from 103,428 in 1997 to 164,205 in 2018, displaying a 58.7% rise.
This alarming growth in NCD-related mortality underscores a pressing health concern for the South African population.
The data delineates the highest Age Standardised Mortality Rates (ASMR) were predominantly seen in cardiovascular diseases, trailed by cancer, diabetes, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.
There’s a discernible gender disparity as males exhibited higher ASMR than females across all these non-communicable diseases.
What are the factors contributing to South African deaths linked to cancer, diabetes and heart attacks?
Several factors could be at play behind these escalating figures.
Variability in access to healthcare, ageing, genetic predispositions to certain diseases, or behavioural factors could potentially heighten the risk for some individuals more than others, Stats SA found.
The median age at death was recorded at 65 for males and 69 for females, showcasing a slight difference between genders.
Furthermore, the racial and provincial discrepancies in mortality rates hint at a more complex underlying issue.
For instance, the Indian/Asian and black African population groups exhibited significantly higher ASMR for diabetes in 2018.
On a provincial level, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Gauteng, Western Cape, and Eastern Cape provinces bore some of the heaviest burdens of NCDs, likely reflecting their larger populace.
Despite the grim statistics, the steady decline in ASMR for chronic lower respiratory diseases from 41.4/100,000 in 2008 to 31.4/100,000 in 2018 brings a glimmer of hope and reflects some progress in battling NCDs.
Yet, the stagnation in overall age-standardised mortality rates from NCDs implies a need for more concerted efforts to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.4, which aims at reducing premature mortality from NCDs by one-third by 2030.