The latest South African Demographic and Health Survey shows that government health policies are bearing fruit
The newly released South African Demographic and Health Survey (SADHS) covered fertility, nutrition and family planning among other health-related issues. What the reasearch shows is that more citizens are accessing public services. Government health policies are bearing fruit.
South Africa’s average fertility rate has dropped from 2.9 children in 1998 to 2.6 in 2016.
For women in urban communities the rate is 2.4, while there are 3.1 births for every woman in rural areas.
The percentage of childless women who did not want a child increased from 5.7 per cent in 1998 to 13.3 per cent in 2016.
By the age of 19, 28 per cent of girls have begun having children. The teenage pregnancy rate has remained at around 71 per cent, but fewer 19-year-olds are having babies.
The more children a woman has, the more likely she is to not want more: 50 per cent of women without children want a child, 37 per cent with one child would like another, and 13 per cent of women with three or more children do not want more children.
Nine percent of women surveyed reported they could not fall pregnant.
South African infant mortality rates declined by 20 per cent between 1998 and 2016. Child mortality rates declined by 28 per cent in the same period.
In 2016, 96 per cent of children were delivered in a clinic, compared to 83 per cent in 1998.
The proportion of pregnant women who receive antenatal treatment from a medical professional at least once during their pregnancy is 93.7 per cent.
• Gauteng has the lowest number of women who receive at least four antenatal consults, 62 per cent, where the national average is 89 per cent.
• Women in rural areas are more likely to receive more than four antenatal visits.
Child health and nutrition
Vaccinations have been administered to 95 per cent of South African children but in Mpumalanga 10 per cent of children between the ages of 12 and 23 months have not had any vaccinations.
The percentage of girls receiving vaccines was 59 per cent, while the rate for boys was 64 per cent. Chronic malnutrition remains an issue in the country: 27 per cent of children under the age of five were considered stunted and 10 per cent were severely stunted. Stunting was found to be more of an issue among boys (30 per cent) than girls (25 per cent).
• A mother’s level of education and financial wealth are both indicators of the likelihood of infant stunting. For example, 36 per cent of children in the lowest wealth quintile are considered malnourished with the number decreasing to 24 per cent in the middle quintile and 13 per cent in the highest wealth level.
• On the other end of the spectrum, 13 per cent of South African children are overweight (more than double the international average of 6.1 per cent).
Sexual behaviour and contraception
Sexual patterns are starkly different between men and women in South Africa. Just 5 per cent of women report having two or more partners in the preceding 12 months and 45 per cent had intercourse with a partner who did not live with them or was a spouse.
In the 15 to 49 age group, the average number of sexual partners for men is 15, and for women is four.
Seventeen per cent of men in the 15 to 49 age group reported having two or more partners and 55 per cent had intercourse with someone who was neither a spouse nor lived with them. Ninety three per cent of South Africans are aware of HIV/AIDS and that you can get tested. However, in the 15 to 24 age group, 31 per cent of people have never been tested.
Fifty four per cent of women in the 15 to 49 year age group use contraception and 44 per cent of them report being in control of the type of contraception used.
• Among sexually active women 15 per cent have an unmet need for contraception.