needn't wipe out millions
mortality figures released this week by Statistics South
Africa are a timely warning about our lifestyle as a
Based on a
12% sample of 279 581 recorded deaths out of a total of
two million between 1997 and 2001, the study's
methodology is not in doubt, nor is its representivity.
found that the major cause of death, at 11%, were
unnatural incidents such as road accidents, injuries,
suicide and drowning. This was followed by ill-defined
causes and tuberculosis at 8% each, HIV at 7% and
influenza and pneumonia at 6%.
means is that violent deaths are the biggest killer in
South Africa. It is a sobering reality of our time that
more people die violently than from old age and disease.
point is that everyone knows that the attitudes of
insurance companies towards Aids have a lot to do with
the low disclosure levels of the true causes of death.
therefore need to enter into a debate as a nation about
how we deal with external factors that make correct data
capturing so difficult.
make Aids a notifiable disease? If so, what do we do
with the existing stigma of the disease, fed by
ignorance? What will that do to insurance policies and
premiums? These are important questions that will need
Medical Research Council issued results of a similar
study last year and declared that 20% of adult deaths
were caused by Aids, the government ordered a new
stance it has taken at various times about the causes
and impact of Aids, it was clear its hope was that Stats
SA would produce "better" results.
not. Instead the results are essentially the same, for
if the figures for "pure" HIV/Aids were added
to about 50% of both TB and pneumonia deaths, HIV
becomes the biggest killer, at about 14%.
results also indicate that African women are the biggest
group dying from identified Aids.
about cause and effect must die a natural death - now.
In its place must come a vigorous programme that must
involve government, civil society organisations and
Aids is a
lifestyle infection. No legislation can change people's
sexual behaviour. A change in behaviour, preceded by an
acceptance that Aids is real, is a good starting point.
study measuring the effectiveness of the government's
Aids awareness campaign shows that 67% of South Africans
now worry about getting Aids, compared with 47% two
years ago. And 49% of those surveyed say they always use
condoms during sex.
also progress in the destigmatising of the disease.
indicators are encouraging, mass information campaigns,
empowerment lessons for women, and the promotion of the
use of condoms and of drugs to curb the spread of
infections need to be intensified.
players must be good sports
Africa is a nation besotted with sport. It therefore
makes sense that all parties involved in this week's
hearings into television sports rights tread carefully.
government understandably wants all South Africans, and
not just the affluent, to have television access to the
events that excite and thrill (and occasionally
This is a
noble view, but the counterpoint is the reality of
modern sport. Major sport sustains itself primarily
through television money. Sports like soccer, rugby,
golf and cricket depend heavily on the sale of TV
various sporting federations are thus entitled to feel
nervous about possible government intervention.
shouldn't come to the point where they have to sell
their broadcast rights for less than they are worth.
the global trend for TV sports broadcasting rights to be
sold for obscene amounts needs to be brought to an end.
There is a
cost attached to ensuring that national sports can be
watched by the whole nation. Government must provide
leadership by showing how this cost will be met.
challenge is to find a solution that pleases the people,
the sporting authorities and the broadcasters.