South African Medical Research Council


About South African Medical Research Council

A pioneering and collaborative institution that conducts and funds research that responds to the top ten causes of mortality in South Africa. We aim to, through innovation and technology strategies, address the four colliding epidemics experienced by in South Africa.

Maternal, Newborn & Child Health

  • The increasing trend in maternal mortality was reversed in 2010 and Maternal Mortality Rate reached 153 per 100 00 live births in 2015
  • Under 5 Mortality Rate declined from 80 per 1000 live births in 2003 to 34 per 1000 live births in 2016
  • Neonatal conditions, HIV/AIDS, diarrhoeal disease and lower respiratory infections/pneumonia need to be addressed to reduce child mortality further


  • Marked changes in mortality have been experienced with declines corresponding with the roll-out of ART and the earlier PMTCT intervention – 153 00 people died from HIV/AIDS in 2012 compared to 300 000 in 2006
  • HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of death
    • efforts to provide access to treatment must be enhanced
    • prevention efforts must be strengthened, particularly among young women
  • SA is estimated to have the biggest TB burden in the world – a sizable number of HIV/AIDS deaths are associated with TB

Non-Communicable Diseases

  • Non-communicable diseases, as a group, now account for the highest number of deaths in South Africa
  • Cardiovascular conditions are the leading category of non-communicable disease deaths in South Africa accounting for 19% of deaths in 2012
  • Essential to address leading risk factors for non-communicable diseases i.e. smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity, and diet provide primary healthcare to manage them

Violence and Injury

  • Interpersonal violence and road traffic injuries account for considerable premature loss of life – inter-sectoral actions are needed to change norms in society build social cohesion
  • 52% reduction in the death rate from interpersonal violence (homicide) between 1997-2012, accompanied political stabilisation in the country and Fire Arms Control Act of 2000
  • However, homicide rates in South Africa remain much higher than the global average

Contact Details

Cape Town Francie van Zijl Drive, Parowvallei, Cape Town Tel: +27 (0)21 938 0911 Fax: +27 (0)21 938 0200 Website: Other offices  


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