Who died of what in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: a cause of death analysis using InterVA-4

Type Journal Article - Global health action
Title Who died of what in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: a cause of death analysis using InterVA-4
Volume 7
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4220127/

For public health purposes, it is important to see whether men and women in different age groups die of the same causes in South Africa.


We explored sex- and age-specific patterns of causes of deaths in a rural demographic surveillance site in northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa over the period 2000–2011.


Deaths reported through the demographic surveillance were followed up by a verbal autopsy (VA) interview using a standardised questionnaire. Causes of death were assigned likelihoods using the publicly available tool InterVA-4. Cause-specific mortality fractions were determined by age and sex.


Over the study period, a total of 5,416 (47%) and 6,081 (53%) deaths were recorded in men and women, respectively. Major causes of death proportionally affecting more women than men were (all p<0.0001): human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) (20.1% vs. 13.6%), other and unspecified cardiac disease (5.9% vs. 3.2%), stroke (4.5% vs. 2.7%), reproductive neoplasms (1.7% vs. 0.4%), diabetes (2.4% vs. 1.2%), and breast neoplasms (0.4% vs. 0%). Major causes of deaths proportionally affecting more men than women were (all p<0.0001) assault (6.1% vs. 1.7%), pulmonary tuberculosis (34.5% vs. 30.2%), road traffic accidents (3.0% vs. 1.0%), intentional self-harm (1.3% vs. 0.3%), and respiratory neoplasms (2.5% vs. 1.5%). Causes of death due to communicable diseases predominated in all age groups except in older persons.


While mortality during the 2000s was dominated by tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, we found substantial sex-specific differences both for communicable and non-communicable causes of death, some which can be explained by a differing sex-specific age structure. InterVA-4 is likely to be a valuable tool for investigating causes of death patterns in other similar Southern African settings.

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