The life expectancy of an average South African has increased in the last three years, a report published in The Lancet health journal said on Friday.
"Important changes have occurred in the country, resulting in an increase in life expectancy to 60 years," said The Lancet.
In 2009, the average South African was expected to live to the age of 54.
Researchers said the improvement of the health system contributed greatly to the increase.
"The change in leadership of the ministry of health has been key, but new momentum is inhibited by stasis within the health management bureaucracy," said the report.
Government's efforts to inform people about lifestyle risks also had an impact.
"Specific policy and programme changes are evident for all four of the so-called colliding epidemics: HIV and tuberculosis; chronic illness and mental health; injury and violence; and maternal, neonatal, and child health," read the report.
"Large racial differentials exist in social determinants of health, especially housing and sanitation for the poor and inequity between the sexes."
The Lancet stated that the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) could help to improve the situation.
"Transformation of the health system into a national institution that is base on equity and merit and is built on an effective human-resources system could still place South Africa on track to ... enhance the lives of its citizens."