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(From Business Day (South Africa))
Byline: Jonny Steinberg
HIV/AIDS TREATMENT/ Learning the lessons of Lusikisiki SOMETHING unusual happened this month in the backwater town of Lusiki-siki in Eastern Cape. On a Thursday morning, a spirited crowd some 2000 strong crammed into the local community hall. They were there to bid a rowdy farewell to an international nongovernmental organisation, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
MSF had arrived in town almost four years earlier to start an antiretroviral treatment project in partnership with the provincial health department. Back then, Lusikisiki's 12 primary health-care clinics were hardly in a state to tackle a great epidemic. Only two had reliable electricity supply and only one had running water or a phone. Less than four in 10 nursing posts were filled. Per capita, the district had 14 times more people per doctor than the national average. Four years later, 46000 of Lusikisiki's 150000 people have tested for HIV. More importantly, 2200 have begun antiretroviral treatment. Those who packed the hall to cheer did so because they know that the district's burial grounds and …