World Health & Population

World Health & Population 11(1) August 2009 : 50-59.doi:10.12927/whp.2013.21017

Multiple Forces Working in Unison: The Case of Rapid Improvement of Vital Statistics in South Africa Post-1996

Sulaiman Bah


In a period of about five years, from 1997 to 2002, South Africa remarkably improved the coverage and production of its vital statistics. This period witnessed the entrance of South Africa into the select league of countries that publish statistics on multiple causes of death and that make use automatic coding of causes of death. These achievements were accomplished through multiple forces working in unison. Some of the important factors contributing to the achievement were lessons learned from study tours to Australia, Sweden and the USA. The paper describes these lessons and how they were adapted to suit the South African reality. Comparison is made between the status of demographic statistics by the end of apartheid and in the post-apartheid era. Stakeholder relationships that shaped the transformation of demographic statistics in the new South Africa are also discussed.



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