SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574
GROENEWALD, P et al. The importance of identified cause-of-death information being available for public health surveillance, actions and research. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2015, vol.105, n.7, pp.528-530. ISSN 2078-5135. http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/SAMJNEW.8019.
An amendment to the South African Births and Deaths Registration Act has compromised efforts to strengthen local mortality surveillance to provide statistics for small areas and enable data linkage to provide information for public health actions. Internationally it has been recognised that a careful balance needs to be kept between protecting individual patient confidentiality and enabling effective public health intelligence to guide patient care and service delivery and prevent harmful exposures. This article describes the public health benefits of a local mortality surveillance system in the Western Cape Province, South Africa (SA), as well as its potential for improving the quality of vital statistics data with integration into the national civil registration and vital statistics system. It also identifies other important uses for identifiable cause-of-death data in SA that have been compromised by this legislation.