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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

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

Abstract

MATHEWS, S et al. The South African child death review pilot: A multiagency approach to strengthen healthcare and protection for children. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2016, vol.106, n.9, pp.895-899. ISSN 2078-5135.  http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/samj.2016.v106i9.11234.

BACKGROUND: Child mortality trends in South Africa (SA) show a decrease, but remain high and appear to have plateaued. To attain the new sustainable development goals, we need a better understanding of causes of death and the associated factors. OBJECTIVES: To describe the SA child death review (CDR) pilot, the pattern of child deaths reviewed and the factors associated with these deaths. METHODS: CDR teams were established at two pilot sites, Salt River mortuary (Western Cape Province) and Phoenix mortuary (KwaZulu-Natal Province). All child deaths were reviewed by a multidisciplinary team at the pilot sites for the period 1 January 2014 - 31 December 2014. RESULTS: The CDR pilot reviewed 711 cases. Over half (53.3%) were natural deaths, as opposed to 42.6% non-natural deaths. Most infant deaths (83.9%) were due to natural causes, while 91.7% of deaths in the 15 - 17-year-old age group were due to injuries. The leading cause of deaths reviewed (30.8%) was respiratory tract infection (RTI), mainly among infants (51.6%). Homicide was the second most common cause of death and affected children of all ages, with the highest burden (52.8%) in the 15 - 17-year age group. Child abuse and neglect accounted for 11.3% of deaths. RTI was shown to be more likely after the neonatal period (odds ratio (OR) 2.92; p<0.000) and in preterm infants (OR 1.98; p=0.005). CONCLUSIONS: CDR teams have been effective in improving identification of the causes of out-of-hospital deaths, as well as by identifying remediable factors critical to reducing child deaths further.

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