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A Profile of Fatal Injuries in South Africa: Towards a Platform for Safety Promotion

Richard Matzopoulos
Ashley van Niekerk
Sandra Marais
Hilton Donson


In recent years, injuries have been recognised as a pervasive feature of South African life and a priority public health concern. Launched in 1999, the National Injury Mortality Surveillance System (NIMSS) has provided information about the extent of deaths due to non-natural causes. It is estimated that approximately 65 000 to 80 000 South Africans died as a result of intentionally or unintentionally inflicted injuries in 2000. The 2000 NIMSS report indicates that homicide remains the most significant contributor to non-natural mortality. In eighty per cent of all deaths, the victims were males, the majority of whom were aged between 25 to 34 years. Non-natural deaths in females were largely the result of unintentional incidents, followed by homicide, which again was concentrated in the 25 to 34 year age range. With increasing coverage the NIMSS will be able to identify injury prevention priorities at both provincial and city level, and inform efforts to reduce the extent of non-natural mortality. Currently, the NIMSS indicates that violent and traffic injuries remain key public health priorities.

African Safety Promotion Vol.1(1) 2002: 16-23