Patient safety


Meet the APPS Team – we are diverse, both in experience and location!

Shams Syed

Dr Shams Syed is the Programme Manager for African Partnerships for Patient Safety (APPS), based at WHO Headquarters in Geneva. He has led the development and implementation of the programme since its inception in 2008. He assumed responsibility for global partnership development in the newly formed WHO Department of Service Delivery & Safety in 2013. Dr. Syed received his medical degree from St. George's, University of London, and subsequently practiced as an independent General Practitioner in the UK. He received postgraduate public health training at the University of Cambridge. Subsequently, he trained in Preventive Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, is US Board Certified in Public Health & Preventive Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine. His previous experiences include: involvement in a future-focused multi-country health systems research consortium; working at the Pan American Health Organization with seven Caribbean countries on strengthening health systems with a focus on surveillance systems; and working as the Advisor on Family and Community Health at the WHO Country Office in Trinidad and Tobago with a focus on quality of care. Dr. Syed has a focused academic interest in reverse innovation in global health systems.

Julie Storr

Julie Storr is a graduate nurse from the University of Manchester, where she also trained as a Health Visitor. Julie has an MBA and has specialised in the prevention and control of infection within health care. Prior to her current position, Julie worked as Project Manager of the WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety's First Global Patient Safety Challenge, Clean Care is Safer Care. She was the technical lead for South-East Asia and the Americas where she worked closely with WHO regional colleagues, senior clinicians and ministries of health in the implementation, scale-up and spread of a Multimodal Behaviour Change Strategy to improve essential infection prevention practices at the facility level. Julie was formerly Assistant Director, Infection Control, at the National Patient Safety Agency and Project Director of the Clean Your Hands campaign. In this role she was instrumental in the development, evaluation and scale-up of a pioneering approach to improving hand hygiene in health care. Julie has also worked as a Clinical Governance Coordinator and Manager of the infection control service at the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals. She has published numerous articles on infection prevention and control, and was a contributing author of the WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health care (2009). Julie is a member of the Board of the UK Infection Prevention Society and Project Manager of African Partnerships for Patient Safety in England. She is also currently studying for a Doctorate in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore.

Joyce Dixon Hightower

Joyce Dixon Hightower is an American Physician trained in Family Medicine, with an extensive medical, administrative, educational and practical experience in Africa. She is fluent in English and French, having lived in both English and French speaking African countries. Prior to entering the field of medicine, she worked as a secondary school teacher in Kenya for seven years, before returning to the USA to attend medical school. Joyce has a personal understanding of the issues facing health providers in rural areas. This was the inspiration for the medical team missions that she led each year up until 2001. Most recently, she worked in Kinshasa, DRC, for seven years where her efforts have focused on health project proposal writing and implementation, as well as small clinic development. In the last three years prior to joining the APPS team, she had been the administrative consultant tasked with laying the administrative and human resource foundation of a state-of-the-art 300-bed hospital in Kinshasa, which opened in 2007. Dr Hightower is the Project Manager for African Partnerships for Patient Safety in the African Region and has been based at the WHO Country Office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, since September 2009.

Katthyana Aparicio

Katthyana Aparicio has been working for the WHO since 2006. She joined the Patient Safety Programme in 2007 and played an important role in project management and evaluation of the Patient Safety Research Small Grants Programme. She joined African Partnerships for Patient Safety in Autumn 2013 as Programme Officer and has been an integral member of the APPS team since then. Her main focus is the French arm of the programme and she liaises closely with ESTHER-France in managing the APPS-France network. Katthyana holds two master degrees from the University of Geneva, one in Business Administration and the other in Information Systems. She recently completed formal training in Project Management. She has extensive experience in managing complex multi-cultural projects. Her experience encompasses the management of high level meetings, workshops, conferences, launch of campaigns, networks and virtual platforms. She is fluent in English, French and Spanish.

Rachel Gooden

Rachel Gooden studied History and African and Asian Studies at the University of Lancaster, in the UK. She worked in international development as a volunteer with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), based in China for four years, where she worked with young Chinese and Tibetan people in English language teaching and then established a programme for VSO China on disability and HIV/AIDS issues. Back in the UK, she worked with the Rwandan Charity ‘Survivors' Fund’, the NHS Health Development Agency and with the charity Marie Curie Cancer Care, before gaining a Masters Degree in Development Management, specializing in International Health, from the University of Wales, Swansea. She was the Project Manager of WHO Patient Safety’s ‘Patients for Patient Safety’ programme for three years, helping to develop a global network of patients and families affected by medical harm, to share their experiences and work locally and nationally with their health-care systems to make them safer. She has worked closely with regional colleagues across all six WHO regions and has supported patients and families around the world to facilitate change. Rachel is currently the Community and Partnership Technical Officer, helping to ensure community perspectives are included in the implementation and development of African Partnerships for Patient Safety.

Sepideh Bagheri Nejad

Sepideh Bagheri Nejad is a medical doctor and has been working in WHO Patient Safety and more specifically in the First Global Patient Safety Challenge, Clean Care is Safer Care programme, since September 2007. She joined African Partnerships for Patient Safety in summer 2009, serving as the liaison officer between the Programme and the University of Geneva Hospitals (HUG). Sepideh has a technical focus on infection prevention and control in resource-limited settings. She is fluent in English and French.

Gabriela Garcia Castillejos

Gabriela (Gaby) Garcia Castillejos is from Mexico, where she studied Industrial Organization engineering. She pursued post-graduate studies in Business Administration at the University of Geneva, and also holds a master degree in International Logistics Management from the University of Barcelona, Spain. Recently, she completed a Practical Project Management course in International Organizations at the University of Geneva. She has wide experience providing administrative support to different international institutions in the Geneva area, such as Permanent Missions to the United Nations, as well as NGOs in Geneva and surrounding France. Gaby has been with WHO since October 2007, as part of WHO Patient Safety, specifically supporting the Clean Care is Safer Care programme. She joined the African Partnerships for Patient Safety team in summer 2012. Apart from her native language (Spanish), she is fluent in English, French and Italian.


Interns play a continual role in the APPS team. The programme is fortunate to have worked with a series of WHO Interns from across the world who have carried out specific projects focused on delivering APPS products for use in programme implementation. These global interns have been primed in the science of patient safety and form a network of young patient safety professionals passionate about global patient safety. Their contributions are, and continue to be, invaluable.