Should childhood deaths be notified?

Yes. All deaths are notifiable in most countries, including South Africa. The child’s age, gender and cause of death should be stated on the death notification form. Unfortunately the given cause of death is often unknown, incorrect or not helpful. For example, if a child with severe malnutrition due to poverty dies of pneumonia, it is of little help if the cause of death is listed as pneumonia when the real underlying reason was the low socioeconomic status of the family (i.e. poverty). Similarly, deaths due to AIDS are often recorded as gastroenteritis or tuberculosis.

The list of common causes of death on official publications is, therefore, often misleading.

The cause of death given on many death notices is often incorrect or misleading.

In well resourced countries with accurate records of all births and deaths, it is far easier to determine mortality rates and the important causes of death.

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