BASICS’ four members have world-class experts in water, sanitation and hygiene; maternal and child health; training and behavior change; and program monitoring and evaluation. BASICS draws on their collective technical expertise for its strong, sustainable and replicable approach to reducing healthcare-acquired infections. Here are the credentials of some of the experts working on BASICS behind the scenes.  Photo credit: Save the Children 2019.

Behind the Scenes

The work of the #BASICS4HEALTH team draws on the collective expertise and individual contributions of many colleagues from the four BASICS member organizations. These are some of the staff working behind the scenes:

Save the Children
Lara Vaz, Senior Advisor, Monitoring & Evaluation – Lara joined Save the Children in January 2013. She has 20-plus years of experience in public health programming, monitoring and evaluation, and 15-plus years of experience in conducting implementation research in resource-limited settings.  Her program areas of experience include maternal and newborn health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and social and behavior change communication. Her areas of expertise include monitoring and evaluation design, qualitative and quantitative data collection methods (including routine information systems), instrument development, data analysis, interpretation and translation for diverse audiences.

Lara provides technical support to the agency’s Saving Newborn Lives program and to the Maternal and Child Survival project and is currently engaged in maternal and newborn health global policy and indicator development with the World Health Organization and other partners. Fluent in four languages, Lara has a Masters in Health Policy and Management from Harvard University and a PhD from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Lara will serve as the senior monitoring and evaluation advisor on BASICS. She will lead the design and implementation of common monitoring systems across BASICS countries and will coordinate with consortium partners, local partners and host country governments to advance BASICS’s robust evaluation, learning and adaptation agenda.

Channa Samol, WASH and Health Program Manager – Channa is WaterAid Cambodia’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and health program manager. She is responsible for WASH and health programming and advocacy and aspires to help achieve 100% WASH coverage in healthcare facilities and communities so that children grow up healthy. She works closely with the Cambodian Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other partners in country to raise the profile of WASH in health facilities as part of quality of care provided and to build on existing national policies and guidelines to ensure WASH in healthcare facilities is comprehensively addressed.

Channa received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the Royal University of Phnom Penh in 2001 and Erasmus Joint Masters in Sustainable Regional Health Systems from the School of Public Health, Deusto University, Corvinus University and Verona University in 2011. With a passion for improving Cambodian women's health through adequate services and high-quality health care, she has established her career through work with non-governmental organizations in the public health field. In her 15 years’ experience, she has advanced from a volunteer testing counsellor to a reproductive health educator, researcher, maternal and child health project manager and manager for social health franchise network.

Ponnary Pors, WASH and Health Officer – Ponnary supports WaterAid Cambodia’s portfolio of strengthening Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) within health sector priorities and policies. Her primary responsibility is to coordinate the Changing Hygiene Around Maternal Priorities (CHAMP) project, which is implemented in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Cambodia’s National Institute of Public Health. Conducted under the framework of behavior-centered design, CHAMP seeks to promote good hygiene practices among health care workers and community members through novel interventions. Ponnary provides expertise as both a health researcher and program expert.

Ponnary received Bachelor of Arts degrees in International Studies and in English from Royal University of Phnom Penh in 2013, and a Master’s in Public Health from Deakin University, Australia, in 2016. Since conducting a qualitative study on reproductive health as a part of her Master’s program, she has been involved in several research studies on health and nutrition within rural and vulnerable populations in Cambodia. Beyond research, she has contributed to the preparation of the Cambodia Nutrition project and to the implementation of Cambodia’s Health Equity and Quality Improvement project.

Dr. Om Prasad Gautam, PhD, MPH, MA, Senior WASH Manager-Hygiene, WaterAid UK – Dr. Gautam is a public health expert and behavior change scientist. He has over 20 years of work and research experiences in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), hygiene behavior change, food hygiene/safety, menstrual hygiene management, child health, immunization, diseases surveillance, public health disaster and outbreak response, HIV/AIDS and equity and inclusion. He has extensive work and research experience in complex and multi-cultural environments in Asia and Africa and is experienced in managing multiple donor-funded programs.

Dr. Gautam is a recognized expert in behavior change program design, including creative process, capacity building, monitoring, evaluation on health and hygiene/WASH. He has extensive experience in large-scale operations and intervention research for WASH, behavior change, food hygiene, hygiene into health and epidemiological research. He also has a substantial track record in developing strategy documents, guidelines, frameworks, program delivery, training guideline/manuals and behavior change approaches. Dr. Gautam led WaterAid’s first global hygiene conference in 2019. He has facilitated technical training on hygiene behavior change in 21 countries and facilitated creative process to design innovative hygiene intervention campaign in 17 countries, which are currently running across Asia and Africa. He currently leads the SuSanA behavior change global group and represents many hygiene networks. He is an independent reviewer for four key international journals.

Katherine Jin, CTO and co-founder of Kinnos – As a co-founder of Kinnos, Katherine helped lead the conception and development of the Highlight® technology. Katherine was part of the founding team that field-tested Highlight® and trained users in Liberia and Guinea in 2015 and 2016, as well as later work in Haiti, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To scale Highlight®’s impact and implementation, Katherine was instrumental in setting up the infrastructure for key operations such as sourcing, manufacturing, and quality control. Katherine’s work behind the scenes supports BASICS and its goal to improve infection prevention outcomes globally.

Katherine was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Healthcare, has been featured by the United Nations in celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and was named to the inaugural list of The Tempest’s #40WomentoWatch. Katherine received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Computer Science from Columbia University, where she was a Coca-Cola Scholar.


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