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Death registration 19/21

Now that we’ve discussed the importance and legal status of cause of death reporting, let’s have a look at the official mortality statistics system and the role of the medical doctor for improving quality of death certification in the country. When someone dies, there are a few people that could play an important role to assist the doctor – who is completing the Death Notification Form - to obtain the necessary information to report on the cause of death. 

This include other members of the healthcare team, such as the nurse caring for the person, the community health worker who regularly visited the person at home, the paramedics who provided emergency care prior to admission to hospital, or the doctor who usually looked after the person. Clinic or hospital medical records may also provide information on the deceased’s medical history.  Then there is the family, who may be able to provide valuable information.

In South Africa, medical doctors in public or private health facilities, and forensic pathologists at forensic mortuaries, certify deaths on the DHA-1663 Death Notification Form.  Headman in traditional areas can also complete a form to certify death: the DHA-1680 Form. These forms are taken by the funeral undertaker or a relative of the deceased to a local or regional Home Affairs office, where the death is registered prior to burial. 

The Home Affairs office will update the population register, and issue a burial order and an abridged death certificate to the funeral undertaker or relative.  From here the DHA-1663 form  is sent to the National Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria, where they are checked, and a Full death certificate issued. The DHA-1663 form is finally sent to Stats SA for ICD-10 coding of cause of death, analysis, reporting and archiving. An annual Mortality and Cause of death report is issued by Stats SA and can be downloaded from the Stats SA website.