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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


MEEL, B L. Fatal road traffic accidents in the Mthatha area of South Africa, 1993 - 2004. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2008, vol.98, n.9, pp.716-719. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND: Trauma is one of the leading causes of death in the Mthatha area, which is one of the least developed regions of South Africa. Road traffic accidents (RTAs) contribute substantially to the number of such deaths. OBJECTIVE: To estimate the number of fatal RTAs in the Mthatha area, and analyse age and sex of the deceased. METHODS: A review of autopsies performed in the Mthatha General Hospital mortuary was conducted. Data were analysed using the GENSTAT 9 package with a Poisson regression model. RESULTS: There were 2 736 deaths from RTAs over the 12-year period 1993 - 2004 in the Mthatha area. These casualties constituted an average annual rate of 57 deaths per 100 000 population. The highest (69.4/100 000) was in 1998, and the lowest (40.2/100 000) in 2001. Males outnumbered females by 2.6:1 (95% confidence interval (CI) 2.13 - 3.22), and the rate showed a decline of 0.97/100 000/year (95% CI 0.95 - 0.99) for the 1998 - 2001 period. The rate of decline was the same for males and females. The highest annual rate was 14.2 per 100 000 population in the age group 21 - 30 years, and the lowest, of 2.6 per 100 000 population, in the group above 70 years of age. The death rates were related to sex (p<0.001) and calendar year (p<0.049). There was no significant connection between year and sex, implying that the effect of year (time) was the same for men and women. These results are statistically significant despite the very high variability in the data (S2=5.53). CONCLUSION: RTA-related deaths in the Mthatha area are 3 times higher than the global average.

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