[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In October 2003 South Africa embarked on a program of folic acid fortification of staple foods. We measured the change in prevalence of NTDs before and after fortification and assessed the cost benefit of this primary health care intervention.
Since the beginning of 2002 an ecological study was conducted among 12 public hospitals in four provinces of South Africa. NTDs as well as other birth defect rates were reported before and after fortification. Mortality data were also collected from two independent sources.
This study shows a significant decline in the prevalence of NTDs following folic acid fortification in South Africa. A decline of 30.5% was observed, from 1.41 to 0.98 per 1,000 births (RR = 0.69; 95% CI: 0.49-0.98; p = .0379). The cost benefit ratio in averting NTDs was 46 to 1. Spina bifida showed a significant decline of 41.6% compared to 10.9% for anencephaly. Additionally, oro-facial clefts showed no significant decline (5.7%). An independent perinatal mortality surveillance system also shows a significant decline (65.9%) in NTD perinatal deaths, and in NTD infant mortality (38.8%).
The decrease in NTD rates postfortification is consistent with decreases observed in other countries that have fortified their food supplies. This is the first time this has been observed in a predominantly African population. The economic benefit flowing from the prevention of NTDs greatly exceeds the costs of implementing folic acid fortification.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2008 · Birth Defects Research Part A Clinical and Molecular Teratology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To review the quality of the coding of the cause of death (COD) statistics and assess the mortality information needs of the City of Cape Town.
Using an action research approach, a study was set up to investigate the quality of COD information, the accuracy of COD coding and consistency of coding practices in the larger health subdistricts. Mortality information needs and the best way of presenting the statistics to assist health managers were explored.
Useful information was contained in 75% of death certificates, but nearly 60% had only a single cause certified; 55% of forms were coded accurately. Disagreement was mainly because routine coders coded the immediate instead of the underlying COD. An abridged classification of COD, based on causes of public health importance, prevalent causes and selected combinations of diseases was implemented with training on underlying cause. Analysis of the 2001 data identified the leading causes of death and premature mortality and illustrated striking differences in the disease burden and profile between health subdistricts.
Action research is particularly useful for improving information systems and revealed the need to standardize the coding practice to identify underlying cause. The specificity of the full ICD classification is beyond the level of detail on the death certificates currently available. An abridged classification for coding provides a practical tool appropriate for local level public health surveillance. Attention to the presentation of COD statistics is important to enable the data to inform decision-makers.
Preview · Article · Apr 2006 · Bulletin of the World Health Organisation