Causes of death among females-investigating beyond maternal causes: A community-based longitudinal study

Yohannes Adama Melaku, Berhe Weldearegawi, Alemseged Aregay, Fisaha Haile Tesfay, Loko Abreha, Semaw Ferede Abera, Afework Mulugeta Bezabih

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Methods. Under Kilite-Awlealo Health and Demographic Surveillance System, we investigated mortality rates and causes of death in a cohort of female population from 1st of January 2010 to 31st of December 2012. At the baseline, 33,688 females were involved for the prospective follow-up study. Households under the study were updated every six months by fulltime surveillance data collectors to identify vital events, including deaths. Verbal Autopsy (VA) data were collected by separate trained data collectors for all identified deaths in the surveillance site. Trained physicians assigned underlining causes of death using the 10th edition of International Classification of Diseases (ICD). We assessed overall, age- and cause-specific mortality rates per 1000 person-years. Causes of death among all deceased females and by age groups were ranked based on cause specific mortality rates. Analysis was performed using Stata Version 11.1.

Results: During the follow-up period, 105,793.9 person-years of observation were generated, and 398 female deaths were recorded. This gave an overall mortality rate of 3.76 (95% confidence interval (CI): 3.41, 4.15) per 1,000 person-years. The top three broad causes of death were infectious and parasitic diseases (1.40 deaths per 1000 person-years), non-communicable diseases (0.98 deaths per 1000 person-years) and external causes (0.36 per 1000 person-years). Most deaths among reproductive age female were caused by Human Deficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS) and tuberculosis (0.14 per 1000 person-years for each cause). Pregnancy and childbirth related causes were responsible for few deaths among women of reproductive age - 3 out of 73 deaths (4.1%) or 5.34 deaths per 1,000 person-years.

Conclusions: Communicable diseases are continued to be the leading causes of death among all age females. HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis were major causes of death among women of reproductive age. Together with existing efforts to prevent pregnancy and childbirth related deaths, public health and curative interventions on other causes, particularly on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, should be strengthened.

Background: In developing countries, investigating mortality levels and causes of death among all age female population despite the childhood and maternal related deaths is important to design appropriate and tailored interventions and to improve survival of female residents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number629
JournalBMC Research Notes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 10 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cause specific mortality rate
  • Female mortality
  • Northern Ethiopia
  • Verbal autopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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