Article

Verbal autopsy-based cause-specific mortality trends in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 2000-2009

Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Somkhele, South Africa. .
Population Health Metrics (Impact Factor: 2.11). 08/2011; 9:47. DOI: 10.1186/1478-7954-9-47
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The advent of the HIV pandemic and the more recent prevention and therapeutic interventions have resulted in extensive and rapid changes in cause-specific mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa, and there is demand for timely and accurate cause-specific mortality data to steer public health responses and to evaluate the outcome of interventions. The objective of this study is to describe cause-specific mortality trends based on verbal autopsies conducted on all deaths in a rural population in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, over a 10-year period (2000-2009).
The study used population-based mortality data collected by a demographic surveillance system on all resident and nonresident members of 12,000 households. Cause of death was determined by verbal autopsy based on the standard INDEPTH/WHO verbal autopsy questionnaire. Cause of death was assigned by physician review and the Bayesian-based InterVA program.
There were 11,281 deaths over 784,274 person-years of observation of 125,658 individuals between Jan. 1, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2009. The cause-specific mortality fractions (CSMF) for the population as a whole were: HIV-related (including tuberculosis), 50%; other communicable diseases, 6%; noncommunicable lifestyle-related conditions, 15%; other noncommunicable diseases, 2%; maternal, perinatal, nutritional, and congenital causes, 1%; injury, 8%; indeterminate causes, 18%. Over the course of the 10 years of observation, the CSMF of HIV-related causes declined from a high of 56% in 2002 to a low of 39% in 2009 with the largest decline starting in 2004 following the introduction of an antiretroviral treatment program into the population. The all-cause age-standardized mortality rate (SMR) declined over the same period from a high of 174 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 165, 183) deaths per 10,000 person-years observed (PYO) in 2003 to a low of 116 (95% CI: 109, 123) in 2009. The decline in the SMR is predominantly due to a decline in the HIV-related SMR, which declined in the same period from 96 (95% CI: 89, 102) to 45 (95% CI: 40, 49) deaths per 10,000 PYO.There was substantial agreement (79% kappa = 0.68 (95% CI: 0.67, 0.69)) between physician coding and InterVA coding at the burden of disease group level.
Verbal autopsy based methods enabled the timely measurement of changing trends in cause-specific mortality to provide policymakers with the much-needed information to allocate resources to appropriate health interventions.

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