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Bull World Health Organ. 2001;79(2):133-41.

Changing causes of death in the West African town of Banjul, 1942-97.

Author information

  • 1Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratories, Fajara, PO Box 273, Banjul, The Gambia. mvdsande@mrc.gm

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine trends in the causes of death in a West African town. Mortality caused by infectious diseases is reported to be declining while degenerative and man-made mortality factors are increasingly significant. Most mortality analyses for sub-Saharan Africa have involved extrapolation and have not been derived from community-based data.

METHODS:

Historical data on causes of death coded by physicians were analysed for the urban population of Banjul for the period 1942-97. As the calculation of rates is not possible in the absence of a reliable population denominator, age-standardized proportional mortality ratios (PMRs) for men and women by major groups of causes of death were calculated, using the 1942-49 data for reference purposes.

FINDINGS:

Most deaths were attributable to communicable diseases. There was a shift in proportional mortality over the study period: the contribution of communicable diseases declined and that of noncommunicable diseases and injuries increased. These trends were more marked among men than women.

CONCLUSION:

The data illustrate that while noncommunicable diseases and injuries are emerging as important contributors to mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, communicable diseases remain significant causes of mortality and should not be neglected.

PMID:
11242820
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2566359
Free PMC Article
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