Media release: Mortality and causes of death, 2015

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                           28 February 2017

Non-communicable diseases remain unabated – older ages 65 and above driving the burden of disease

A total of 460 236 deaths were recorded in South Africa in 2015, indicating a decline of 3,0% in deaths processed between 2015 and 2014 (474 659), this is according to the Mortality and causes of death, 2015 report released by Statistics South Africa today. The three leading causes of natural deaths in 2014 were tuberculosis, diabetes mellitus and cerebrovascular diseases. Although tuberculosis maintained its rank as the number one leading cause of death in South Africa, non-communicable diseases continue their rise in the rankings of top 10 leading causes with diabetes mellitus moving from third position in 2014 to second position in 2015. Non-communicable diseases formed 60% of the ten leading underlying natural causes of death. In addition to diabetes mellitus; cerebrovascular diseases, other forms of heart disease, hypertensive diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases and ischaemic heart diseases contributed to the rise in non-communicable diseases.

The continued rise in non-communicable diseases has been fuelled by males and females aged 65 and above. Females in this age group had nine out of ten non-communicable diseases in the leading causes, whilst men and eight of out ten as leading causes of natural deaths. Non-communicable diseases are accountable for 62,5% in the top 10 leading causes of death among females aged 65 and above, whereas among males in the same age group these constituted 48,0%. The second age group leading to a rise in deaths due to non-communicable diseases are those aged 45 to 64 years. For both males and females, six of the top ten leading causes of death were due to non-communicable diseases, accounting for 27,7% for females and 32,5% among males.


These findings on the patterns of non-communicable diseases will better inform Sustainable Development Goal 3 on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages, particularly, the indicator on mortality attributed to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory disease among those aged 30 –to 70 years. In turn, this will assist in better planning and meeting the South African Government’s National Development Plan (NDP) goal to ensure a long and healthy life for its population by 2030.

The full report is available on the Statistics South Africa website:

About the report:

The statistical release published by Stats SA today includes registered deaths from the civil registration system maintained by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). The information is shown in by selected socio-demographic characteristics and provides statistics on the causes of death for deaths that occurred in 2015, focusing on the underlying cause of death. The overall number of deaths is also provided by year of death for the period 1997 to 2014 (updated for late registrations) as well as underlying causes of death for selected years to show levels and trends of registered deaths.

Issued by Statistics South Africa

For technical inquires contact:

Dr Kefiloe Masiteng

Deputy Director-General: Population & Social Statistics

Tel: (012) 310 4663



Mr Thabo Molebatsi

Acting Chief Director: Health and Vital Statistics

Tel: (012) 453 0900

Cell: 082 564 6619



For media enquiries contact:

Ms Lesedi Dibakwane

Tel: (012) 310 8578

Cell: 082 805 7088