Children's Health

Statistics sketch a grim picture

Statistics reflecting the “state of our children”

Demographic profile

There are 17 million children younger than 18 years old in South Africa ‘€“ 44% of our population

Just over half (55%) of these children live in three provinces, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape

13% are under six years old

One million children are under three years old

Two-thirds of the children live in rural areas

49% of children do not have birth registration

41% of African households are “de facto” male headed (in other words a male head exists, but is absent from the home)

Living conditions

12 to 14 million South Africans live without access to safe water

21 million without sanitation

Health status

The infant mortality rate is 49 per 1 000 in South Africa ‘€“ In Cuba this rate is 7 per 1 000, Vietnam 32 per 1 000 and Botswana 39 per 1 000.

25% of children under five have severe to moderate stunting

10% of children aged six to 11 years have goitre ‘€“ an iodine deficiency which causes brain damage and mental retardation

12% of all deaths were of children under five years of age

Two thirds of child deaths under five are due to diarrhoeal diseases

Economic profile of family

55% of the population earn under U$2 per day ‘€“ 61% are African and 1% are white

About 12 million people (24%) are poor ‘€“ exist on under U$1 per day

5,9-million people are unemployed ‘€“ 52% of African women and 43% of African men are unemployed

Two to three million of the 7,2 formally employed people earn low wages

Between 61% and 70% of children live in poverty

Children in especially difficult circumstances

It is estimated that 10 000 children live or work on the streets in South Africa

Four million children experience some form of disability ‘€“ over 70% of whom are out of school

9% of children live in households without either parents or grandparents

Child abuse, including sexual and physical abuse increased by 117% between 1993 and 1996. In 1998 about 34 000 reports of crimes against children including rape, incest and kidnapping where recorded.

8,3% of children aged between five and nine years spend about five hours per day on economic child labour activities

Educational status

1,6 million school aged children are out of school

one in eight girls are forced out of school due to pregnancy

48% of schools do not have electricity

only 55% of learners pass matric

HIV/AIDS implications

South Africa has the highest HIV infection rates in the world ‘€“ KwaZulu-Natal being the epicentre for the epidemic. Presently at least 4-million South Africans are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS

HIV incidence is the highest among adolescents aged 15 to 19 years (65,4%)

700 000 deaths from HIV/AIDS are anticipated by 2005 and 10 million by 2015

It is projected that by 2010 there will be between 3,6-million and 4,8-million orphans in South Africa. In KwaZulu-Natal alone this will mean 750 000 orphans. Orphans will constitute between 9 and 12% of the population. International norms for developing countries are between 2 and 5%

The infant mortality rate is set to increase from 40 per 1 000 to 100 per 1 000 births

There will be an increase in child headed households

Source: Children’€™s Rights Centre, Durban

About the author

Anso Thom