n South African Medical Journal - Where do children die and what are the causes? Under-5 deaths in the Metro West geographical service area of the Western Cape, South Africa, 2011 : research

Volume 106, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Accurate child mortality data are essential to plan health interventions to reduce child deaths.

To review the deaths of children aged < 5 years during 2011 in the Metro West geographical service area (GSA) of the Western Cape Province (WC), South Africa, from routine data sources.
A retrospective study of under-5 deaths in the Metro West GSA was done using the WC Local Mortality Surveillance System (LMSS), the Child Healthcare Problem Identification Programme (Child PIP) and the Perinatal Problem Identification Programme (PPIP), and linking where possible.
The LMSS reported 700 under-5 deaths, Child PIP 99 and PPIP 252, with an under-5 mortality rate of 18 deaths per 1 000 live births. The leading causes of death were pneumonia (25%), gastroenteritis (10%), prematurity (9%) and injuries (9%). There were 316 in-hospital deaths (45%) and 384 out-of-hospital deaths (55%). Among children aged < 1 year, there were significantly more pneumonia deaths out of hospital than in hospital (144 (49%) v. 16 (6%); p0.001). Among children aged 1 - 4 years there were significantly more injury-related deaths out of hospital than in hospital (43 (47%) v. 4 (9%); p0.001). In 56 (15%) of the cases of out-of-hospital death the child had visited a public healthcare facility within 1 week of death. Thirty-six (64%) of these children had died of pneumonia or gastroenteritis.
Health interventions targeted at reducing under-5 deaths from pneumonia, gastroenteritis, prematurity and injuries need to be implemented across the service delivery platform in the Metro West GSA. It is important to consider all routine data sources in the evaluation of child mortality.

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