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

Dr. Joseph de Graft-Johnson, Team Leader, Maternal and Reproductive Health – Dr. de Graft-Johnson is a public health physician and has worked in international public health for over 25 years in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia. He has served as a clinician at regional and district levels in Ghana, as senior health advisor at country and regional levels, and as team lead on various global maternal and newborn health projects. He provides technical leadership to scale up proven maternal and newborn health interventions along the household-to-hospital continuum of care.  He is a strong advocate for integrated maternal and newborn health (MNH) and provides technical support to countries to improve their readiness for integrated MNH services, including infection prevention at both the facility and community levels. Dr. de Graft-Johnson will provide technical guidance to ensure BASICS activities and monitoring and evaluation systems align with global standards and best practices in maternal and newborn health, with a particular focus on Nigeria and Bangladesh.

Dr. Joseph Obure, Maternal and Reproductive Health Advisor – Dr. Obure is an OBGYN and public health specialist with many years of experience practicing clinical medicine, teaching and implementing sexual reproductive maternal and newborn health and HIV programs in developing countries. He currently works in our Washington, D.C. office, supporting family planning, maternal and newborn health programs implemented in Yemen, Zambia, Ethiopia, Nepal and Nigeria. Dr. Obure previously worked with Pathfinder International, the Walter Reed HIV/AIDS Program and as an obstetrician and faculty member of the Christian Medical University College in Tanzania.  He obtained his medical degree at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College in Tanzania and his public health degree from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Dr. Obure will provide technical guidance to ensure BASICS activities and monitoring and evaluation systems align with global standards and best practices in maternal and newborn health, with a particular focus on Tanzania and expansion countries.

Dr. Abimbola Gbenga Olayemi, Head of Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) for Save the Children’s Nigeria Country Office – Dr. Olayemi is a medical doctor by training, with specialization in public health. He has had more than 20 years’ experience working in the health, development and humanitarian sectors in Nigeria. His wealth of experience in project management includes monitoring, evaluation and learning of health projects such as interventions in HIV and AIDS, TB, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, maternal, newborn and child health and malaria, all at various levels of implementation. He has also participated in a variety of evaluations and research across the country. Dr. Olayemi will support the design and implementation of BASICS monitoring, evaluation and learning activities in Nigeria.


Kyla Smith is the Senior WASH Manager – Health at WaterAid based in the International Programmes Department’s Programme Support Unit. Kyla has over 12 years of experience working in international development in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes in Africa, Asia, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and a Master of Applied Science as part of the Drinking Water Research Group at the University of Toronto (Civil Engineering). Kyla supports WaterAid’s programmatic work in WASH and health, including WASH in HCFs, WASH and nutrition, cholera, child health and NTDs.

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.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

Dr. Clare Chandler, Co-Director of the LSHTM Antimicrobial Resistance Centre – Dr. Chandler is a medical anthropologist and the co-director of the LSHTM Antimicrobial Resistance Centre, which works to inspire innovation through interdisciplinary engagements. Her research interests lie in the application of anthropological methods and theory to policies and practices relating to the use of medicine, diagnostic testing, management of febrile illnesses and health care improvement interventions. Her current research focus is antimicrobial resistance. Dr. Chandler leads the Anthropology of Antimicrobial Resistance research group, which is addressing this issue through a number of research projects. She is Principal Investigator for the ESRC funded Anti-Microbials In Society (AMIS) programme, which aims to bring fresh perspectives to social studies of antimicrobial resistance. The programme includes empirical studies in Thailand and Uganda, as well as the AMIS Hub web platform, which profiles high quality social research on antimicrobial resistance through a library of readings, people and projects listings, thematic summaries and commentaries.

Dr. Chandler also leads the social science research for the DfID-funded FIEBRE programme, looking at antibiotic use and concepts of fever amongst a range of actors in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Myanmar. She also holds a small grant from the World Health Organization to investigate awareness of antimicrobial resistance among healthcare professionals in low- and middle-income country settings, which builds on qualitative research in nine countries to develop a standardised tool to assess awareness of antimicrobial resistance across human and animal practitioners. She is also studying antimicrobial resistance from a One Health perspective, with funded projects looking at antibiotic use in companion animals in the UK as well as the measurement of antibiotic use in agricultural and human systems in low and middle-income countries.

Professor Val Curtis, Director, Environmental Health Group – Val directs the multidisciplinary team researching water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at LSHTM. Trained in engineering, epidemiology and anthropology, she studies human behaviour from an evolutionary perspective. She is author of "Don't Look, Don't Touch, the Science behind Revulsion." She co-developed Behaviour Centred Design, which combines the latest in behavioural science with a process for designing and testing novel interventions. She helped to found Global Handwashing Day and the Toilet Board Coalition. She advises the Indian and the Tanzanian governments on their national sanitation programmes and Unilever on sustainability.

Associate Professor Dr. Robert Dreibelbis – Dr. Dreibelbis works in the Disease Control Department, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical diseases at LSHTM. His work focuses on understanding hygiene behaviours and the design and evaluation of hygiene behaviour change interventions in households, communities, and public institutions. Dr. Dreibelbis is the Principal Investigator for the Changing Hygiene Around Maternal Priorities study in Cambodia, which will develop and test an innovative, gender-sensitive hand hygiene and infection prevention intervention in health facilities in the country. He has authored numerous publications on infection prevention in low- and middle-income countries, including a 2013 systematic review: “The Integrated Behavioural Model for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: a systematic review of behavioural models and a framework for designing and evaluating behaviour change interventions in infrastructure-restricted settings.” Dr. Dreibelbis has a PhD in International Health - Social and Behavioural interventions from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Masters of Public Health from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health.

Dr. Alex Aiken – Dr. Aiken is a Microbiology+Infectious Disease Consultant at Charing Cross Hospital and a clinical epidemiologist at LSHTM. His research interest is mainly in hospital-acquired infections and antibiotic resistance in low-income settings, especially hospitals in African countries. Dr. Aiken conducted his PhD research with KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Program in Kenya and has worked with the World Health Organization on a multi-site African project relating to surgical infections. He was the Principal Investigator on a recent Joint Global Health Trials Development Grant relating to improving cleaning in hospitals in Tanzania.

Assistant Professor Katie Greenland – Katie joined the Environmental Health Group at LSHTM in 2011. Her research focuses on the study and measurement of hygiene behaviour and the consequent development and evaluation of behaviour change interventions. Her PhD research was on the design and evaluation of a multiple behaviour change intervention to control childhood diarrhea in Zambia. Katie is currently working on face-washing behaviour for trachoma control in Oromia, Ethiopia. She is also a theme lead for Process Evaluation within the School’s Centre for Evaluation.

Assistant Professor Giorgia Gon – Giorgia is based in the Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health at LSHTM. Her research is in the field of preventing healthcare-associated infections, in particular within the maternity and newborn wards of low- and middle-income countries. She uses an interdisciplinary approach, spanning from epidemiology and the behavioural sciences, to increase the uptake of behaviours under the infection prevention and control umbrella. She has a Master’s in Epidemiology from LSHTM and a Bachelor’s in Human Sciences from the University of Oxford. Prior to working for LSHTM, she worked with Merlin in London and Juba, South Sudan, and as a consultant for the OECD in the UK. She was also a Young Professional Intern at the HIV-AIDS Unit for UNODC in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Loveday Penn-Kekana – Loveday is a medical anthropologist by training and based in the Maternal and Newborn Health Group at LSHTM, having a leadership role with the MARCH Centre. She has over 20 years’ experience working as an activist, programme manager and technical advisor in the Department of Health in South Africa, and an academic in the field of maternal health and health systems, with a particular interest in the health workforce. She is working on research projects in India, Brazil, and Nepal. Loveday is also the technical lead of the Care-Seeking and Referral Community of Practice run by Circle.


Katherine Jin, CTO and co-founder of KinnosAs 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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