Aurum Innova Team

U.S. PEPFAR funds local hand-washing innovation Shesha-Geza

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and its partner, The Aurum Institute (Aurum), have launched innovative mobile hand hygiene stations, aptly named Shesha Geza, which means “hurry up and wash” in isiZulu. The stations have been placed at several public health facilities in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, as part of efforts to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Funded through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) South Africa, Aurum has rolled out 15 hand hygiene stations valued at R375,000 in total at clinics throughout Ekurhuleni in May and June. An additional 36 units will be deployed across Ekurhuleni and the North West Province in June and July, in staggered fashion as part of phase 2.

The Shesha Geza handwashing stations feature a diluted, chlorine-based sanitizer liquid, which can be utilized to sanitize hands when washing with soap or using an alcohol-based hand rub is not feasible or available. In this case, a chlorine solution is both more feasible and cost effective than other alternatives for the locations where Shesha Geza units are deployed. The stations are operated by a foot pump to reduce the need to touch water faucets. Balancing mobility and water storage capacity, the 600-liter tank equates to 4,000 hand washes per one cycle. The water in the tank can be used safely for a minimum of 5 cycles, facilitating over 20,000 hand washes before needing to be refilled. The design also allows for hand washing with soap as an alternative to the diluted chlorine-based solution where feasible.

Hand hygiene is an important part of the South African response to the international emergence of COVID-19. Practicing hand hygiene, which includes hand washing with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds, using alcohol-based hand rub, and, where necessary, use of a diluted chlorine-based solution, is a simple yet effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other infections. CDC recommendations reflect this important role.

“We know that hand hygiene helps to remove pathogens and prevent the spread of disease, so practicing frequent hand hygiene is recommended,” says CDC South Africa Acting Country Director, Dr. Romel Lacson.

“Smart and safe, Shesha Geza draws on local inspiration and creativity and the U.S. government is proud to be able to fund such innovative solutions to the challenges faced by local communities. COVID-19 is not a disease that the government, doctors, Community Health Workers, or any other special group of people can fight on their own. It is one that will require all of us to work together to overcome. Each person doing their best to keep themselves safe by practicing hand hygiene, keeping their distance from others, and wearing masks to reduce the spread of germs to those around them– this is what’s required to bring this global outbreak to an end and save hundreds of thousands of lives,” says U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks.

U.S. PEPFAR has partnered with the Government of South Africa to support HIV care, treatment, and prevention since 2004, investing more than $7.25 billion (over R100 billion) in programs here. Shesha Geza is one example of recent collaborations between U.S. PEPFAR and the Government of South Africa to mobilize U.S. PEPFAR resources to counter the COVID-19 epidemic, while still advancing the core goal of supporting people living with HIV. U.S. PEPFAR remains committed to ensuring that all South Africans have the opportunity to live longer, happier, more productive lives, and to preventing new HIV infections.

For more information on U.S. assistance to South Africa on COVID-19, please visit:

For more information on the U.S. global response to COVID-19, please visit:


This article was originally published in  on the 17 July 2020


Frances Moteka shares her experiences working as a nurse in quarantine sites

As the rate of the COVID-19 infection continues to rise in South Africa , healthcare workers continue to face multiple challenges. Sister Frances Moteka shares her personal experiences working in Johannesburg COVID-19 quarantine sites, and the importance of complying with the national lockdown regulations.   


 How did you feel when you were hired to work within a quarantine site, considering the current challenges     and fears surrounding the virus ?


  • I was excited to venture into something different as a versatile nurse who has worked in different nursing disciplines, namely; theatre, ICU, Aviation medicine, education and management. I had to do infection prevention and control research in order to pass 3rd year in nursing, so my excitement was based on being able to put my IPC research into practice and be able to assist in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.


What would you say is the most challenging thing about working in a quarantine site?


  • Difficult, impossible, rude & abusive patients. Before patients arrive on-site, they are well aware of having to stay in quarantine for a period of 14 days, however some expect us to amend the rules and regulations to suit them. When they do not receive the treatment they expect, they slander us with verbal words and call us all sorts of names.


How has your hospital work experience helped you in working in quarantine? Would you say it is more challenging?


  • Having worked at the hospital, you know that the most important person is your patient. One has to carry out the key practices of being a good listener, being selfless and compassionate. Therefore, this was the application I had to apply at the site. The only difference would be that you have patients who are not bed-ridden. This becomes difficult at times, as you have patients who forget that they are supposed to follow protocol as stipulated by the government. Patients feel entitled, they are disrespectful and are very argumentative as compared to the hospital where patients are more respectful and humble.


What are some of the challenges that you as a healthcare worker experience within these sites? How do you overcome them?


  • A quarantine job is difficult, but requires a person who is strong, firm, courageous and fearless and someone who stands their ground, yet at the same time you need to be loving, sympathetic and always go beyond the call of duty. Having to sleep with one eye open has also been a challenge, as you never know when you will get a 2 am call from a patient who is sick; or when you have an ambulance come in at 4 am returning a patient to site from the hospital – so basically having a 24/7 job.


How did you handle leaving your family at home and potentially putting them at risk when you came back?


  • Well, it was slightly difficult knowing I’ll be away from home, however I must say we are a strong and resilient family. My family is understanding and know that I have to bring the bread home, and I guess what eases the difficulty is us communicating on a daily basis. As for putting them at risk, we know that I am responsible for protecting myself as they should too at home. I inform them when I do a test right before the 14 days of quarantine are over, and inform them of my results which gives them the green light to be able to pick me up. So yes, it is difficult to be apart and alone, however we are in this together.


As a healthcare worker, what is something you wish you could tell the citizens of South Africa about COVID-19 and the national lockdown?


  • This pandemic is not a joke. We NEED to take this seriously and people should comply with the government regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us decrease the exponential curve together as government cannot do it on its own. Citizens of South Africa, stay home, wear your mask, wash your hands, practice cough etiquette and keep social distancing. Monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and if there’s a need, isolate yourself and contact your healthcare professional. Prevention is better than cure!