Residential property: Mediocre performance set to continue

The most likely places to be injured and killed in Gauteng are on the road or at home, the SA Medical Research Council (MRC) said on Thursday.

Just under half of all injuries leading to death took place on the province's roads, with homes coming in second at 21.9 percent, MRC spokesperson Hilton Donson told reporters in Johannesburg.

The figures were part of a presentation on fatal injuries in Gauteng last year, an initiative by the MRC and the University of South Africa, supported by the department of health.

Of 10 528 non-natural deaths in Gauteng where the external cause was known, firearms were the top cause at 15.5 percent, followed by pedestrian injury at 12.7 percent and sharp objects at 10.4 percent. According to Donson, people who died in Gauteng last year were most likely to die violently or in some type of transport accident.

About half the violence and transport-related cases tested positive for alcohol, with pedestrian alcohol levels at more than four times the legal limit for driving. "If you look at our roads in Gauteng, drunk pedestrians are a big cause of injury figures. Perhaps we need to start a 'don't drink and walk' campaign," he said.

Taxation on alcohol products, accessibility to alcohol, advertising and labelling of products were all things which needed to be looked at, Department of Health manager for non-communicable diseases' Melvyn Freeman said. Donson said Saturday and Sunday were still peak times for death in the province, which could be related to more people being on the road, at parties and using alcohol. Males in Gauteng were generally far worse off than females, counting for 80.8 percent of all non-natural deaths recorded.

In general, the majority of injuries leading to death occurred among males in the economically active age range of 15 to 44 years. He said injuries were the second leading cause of death in South Africa, behind HIV, making it important to capture data to prevent future injuries as much as possible.

"The injury figures have dropped from 2008 but we still need to look at ways to lower them," Donson said. The figures were based on 11 329 non-natural deaths registered at nine medico-legal laboratories in Gauteng. Data was captured using the National Injury Mortality Surveillance System, which was started in 1999 but was automated in 2008.