Determinants of adolescent mortality in South Africa, 2001- 2007
Nicole De Wet, Clifford Odimegwu
Background: Maternal characteristics are key determinants of infant and child mortality in South Africa. Unemployment, living and working conditions are associated with adult mortality in the country. Little is known of the determinants of adolescent (10- 19 years old) mortality in South Africa. It is important to note the factors that are associated with adolescent mortality as this will prevent premature mortality and help adolescents grow into healthy and productive adults. Method: Data from national Death Notification Forms are used for 2001 and 2007. The study population are males and females aged between 10 and 19 years old. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression producing odds ratios is used to examine if an association exists between individual demographic and socioeconomic factors and adolescent mortality. Results: Statistically significant results show that female adolescents have higher odds of dying from natural causes (4.85 in 2001 and 1.61 in 2007) of mortality compared to adolescent males. Education acts as a protective factor against all- cause and natural causes of death. However, education does not decrease the odds of unnatural or external (1.20- 5.26 in 2001 and 1.28- 1.51 in 2007) deaths among adolescents in South Africa. Further being married is seen to decrease the odds of all types of mortality (natural or disease and unnatural or accidental/ violent) among adolescents. Conclusions: The socioeconomic determinants of adolescent mortality identified in the study are important for evidence- based programmes and strategies. Policy and programme developers can use the results of this study to target adolescents who are at higher risk of premature mortality. Using the study results, programmes can be tailored according to the socioeconomic profiles of adolescents.