HIV-related diseases remains Zambia’s top killer, according to data from the 2015/2016 Sample Vital Registration with Verbal Autopsy (SAVVY).

And results from SAVVY show that malaria is still the country’s leading cause of death for children.

The SAVVY, a joint collaborative effort between the Ministry of Health & the Central Statistical Office (CSO), provides nationally representative estimates of age and sex cause-specific mortality fractions in Zambia.

It also presents results of key information on births, deaths and causes of deaths.

Data released by the CSO in its April Monthly Bulletin shows that HIV-related diseases has remained the country’s biggest killer, with a ratio of 15.2 per cent of deaths, almost three percentage points higher than malaria.

“Among the top ten leading causes of death, HIV-related diseases were the leading cause of death at 15.2 per cent, while malaria was the second leading cause of death at 12.6 per cent,” data reveals.

In its rural/urban analysis, data shows that deaths from HIV-related diseases are higher in urban areas.

“Analysis by rural/urban indicates that HIV-related diseases were the leading cause of death in the urban areas at 18.4 per cent, while malaria was the leading cause of death in rural areas at 16.1 per cent,” it stated.

And malaria is still the top killer for children under 14.

“For children aged 0-4, malaria was the leading cause of death at 22.5 per cent, followed by perinatal and neonatal conditions at 21.3 per cent. HIV-related diseases were the least among the top ten leading causes of death among children at 2.0 per cent,” stated the SAVVY.

“Among children aged 5-14, malaria was the leading cause of death at 32.2 per cent. External causes of death (injuries and accidents) were second at 15.3 per cent. Non-communicable diseases in this age group were among the top ten causes of death: sickle cell disorders (5.1 per cent) and malnutrition (3.1 per cent) HIV and AIDS deaths were 2.3 per cent.”

According renowned health practitioner, Dr. Crispin Moyo, men in Zambia remain very difficult to reach and test for HIV and AIDS compared to women.

Dr. Moyo also justified President Edgar Lungu’s pronouncement of compulsory HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment as “the best approach” towards controlling the scourge last year.

Dr. Moyo, who is EQUIP Zambia Country Director, noted that men in the country remained very difficult to track down and test for HIV/AIDS compared to women who are increasingly testing for the virus on an almost routine basis.

Founded in October 2015, EQUIP is the first Africa-led global consortium designed to deliver rapid scale-up of innovative HIV treatment and prevention solutions across 17 PEPFAR countries.