Health Specialist


UNICEF recruits a Health Specialist.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

The West and Central Africa Regional Office (WCARO) Management Plan 2022-2025 (ROMP) is built around the five goal areas and aims to deliver tangible key results for children in the West and Central Africa Region (WCAR). It outlines the programming, strategic and management interventions and strategic shifts where WCARO will need to make greater investments over the next four years. In the area of Health, the organizational focus will be on three main areas:

  • Immunization as one of the eight regional Key Results for Children (KRC) to close the equity gaps through acceleration of routine immunization-plus and polio eradication.
  • Saving new-born lives, including quality of care (QoC) across programs and;
  • Community-based primary health care including the prevention and management of childhood diseases.

UNICEF will prioritize systems-focused multi-sectoral approaches that link Health with C4D, WASH, ECD, Education, HIV, Nutrition and Protection interventions to optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of its efforts.
In this context, UNICEF is strategically leveraging regional technical support to harmonize and align priorities and optimize the returns on investments for better maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health outcomes. The Health Specialist (Maternal-Newborn Health (MNH), Newborn- Paediatric QoC) position will be supervised by the Senior Health Specialist in the MNCH Unit. S/he will be accountable to improve child survival and development by supporting countries in scaling up MNH interventions (including adolescent health) and improving Newborn & Paediatric QoC for accelerating progress in West and Central Africa. The Health Specialist (MNH & Newborn-Paediatric QoC) provides technical guidance and management support to countries to facilitate the achievement of sustainable maternal, newborn and adolescent health outcomes according to plans, allocation, results-based management approaches and methodology (RBM), organizational strategic plans, standards of performance, and accountability framework.

For every child, a childhood

How can you make a difference?

Under the overall guidance of the Senior Health Specialist, MNCAH/HIV (P5), the Health Specialist (MNH, Newborn-Paediatric QoC) is responsible for providing strategic guidance, technical leadership, programme support and capacity building to country offices in the field of maternal, newborn and adolescent health, including the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (EMTCT)). The incumbent will facilitate adaptation, tracking, and achievement of UNICEF goals and strategies in the area of MNH (and adolescent health), with special focus on countries supported by French Muskoka Grant. The Health Specialist (MNH, Newborn-Paediatric QoC) will support countries to establish approaches to scaling up quality of MNH (including adolescent health) and paediatric care, and to facilitating the peer learning among country teams. Improving quality of care and patient safety are vital to accelerate reductions in maternal, newborn, and child mortality.

The Health Specialist (MNH, Newborn-Paediatric QoC) will work in close coordination with colleagues in UNICEF WCARO Health/HIV/Nutrition/WASH/Protection sections and other key development partners in the region to support and track countries for the implementation of the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP), the Every Mother Every New-born (EMEN) quality improvement approach, and other joint projects/initiatives on improving MNH and newborn-paediatric quality of care.

Summary of key functions/accountabilities

  • Facilitates harmonization of regional and country strategies and approaches in the achievement of MNH (and adolescent health) programme goals with special attention to strategies developed with support of current initiatives (ex: Muskoka). Monitors developments in technical area, as well as political and social developments, at the national and regional levels. Strengthens capacity for evidence-based planning and budgeting for MNH strategies. Guides and supports on cross-cutting interventions (including Key Results for Children), working with colleagues to establish overall health programme plan, and ensure coordination of activities, information and experience sharing to achieve programme objectives.
  • Focus on supporting regional initiatives to accelerate sexual, reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health (SRMNCAH) outcomes in eight priority countries supported by Muskoka. Draws on the lessons and experiences from the Muskoka initiative to guide and support other UNICEF’s partnerships on MNH. Supports country programme development, monitoring and evaluation, using the M&E framework developed by the Muskoka Technical Committee.
  • Leads the Newborn and Pediatric QoC programs: aligns support to governments with WHO (newborn care, pediatric care) guidelines and partner investments for achieving high quality of care; Engages with countries to enable them to inculcate QoC in all policies, strategies and activities as a means for improving quality in a sustainable way and at scale. Supports countries to build and strengthen systems and structures for quality at all levels, identification and refinement of effective, and scalable intervention packages and sustainable QoC implementation model at all levels of care to achieve the desired targets for outcomes and impact by implementation at scale.
  • Monitors ENAP implementation scorecards and performance metrics and provides advice on technical aspects, including strategies proven effective to improve newborn survival and health. Combines cutting-edge technology and programme innovation with operational and political perspectives that empower and position UNICEF programmes in MNH (including adolescent health). Proactively uses learning as a mechanism to identify, document, and share best practices for scale up QoC within and across countries, and demonstrates accountability for results.
  • Contributes to the regional MNH knowledge by analyzing and disseminating available data, health information systems, and trends, to evaluate cost and impact on sustainable development goals. Synthesizes best practices for MNH-QoC from ongoing programmes/projects and disseminates through scientific publications, print and electronic media and through facilitation of exchange visits and workshops. Contributes to quality analysis of country data, documents, and reports on MNH/newborn-paediatric QoC, the development of communication materials and strategies to enhance UNICEF’s visibility and influence with governments, existing and prospective partners and key stakeholders.
  • Contributes to the development of funding proposals, in collaboration with regional office colleagues that are aligned with donor requirements and policies, to maximize the potential for securing funding. This requires working closely with other relevant sections to identify and influence fundraising needs and set fundraising targets.
  • Represents Health Section/ UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office in relevant meetings at regional and national levels to ensure that UNICEF perspectives in MNH (including adolescent health) and Newborn-paediatric QoC are adequately represented in relevant strategies and frameworks and other related sectoral programmes. Performs other related duties as assigned by the supervisor including support to emergencies as well as guiding, training, and coaching staff, interns and consultants, as needed.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have:

  • An advanced university degree (Master’s or higher) in Public Health or a related maternal and child survival areas. A first-level university degree with two additional years of relevant experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced degree.
  • A minimum of eight years of progressively responsible professional work experience at the national and international levels, preferably in public health or related field, with focus on MNH/quality of care.
  • Developing country work experience and/or familiarity with emergency is considered an asset.
  • Fluency in English and French is required.

For every Child, you demonstrate:

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

The UNICEF competencies required for this post are:

  • Nurtures, Leads and Manages People (2)
  • Demonstrates Self Awareness and Ethical Awareness (3)
  • Works Collaboratively with others (3)
  • Builds and Maintains Partnerships (3)
  • Innovates and Embraces Change (3)
  • Thinks and Acts Strategically (3)
  • Drives to achieve impactful results (3)
  • Manages ambiguity and complexity (3)

The functional competencies required for this post are:

  • Leading and Supervising (2)
  • Formulating Strategies and Concepts (2)
  • Analyzing (2)
  • Relating and Networking (2)
  • Deciding and Initiating Action (2)
  • Applying Technical Expertise (2)
  • Persuading and influencing (3)

To view our competency framework, please visit here.

Click here to learn more about UNICEF’s values and competencies.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with UNICEF and an underlying premise of the international civil service.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Deadline: 24 Oct 2021 Greenwich Standard Time.

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