Health Specilist (Emergencies), P-4, TA – 11.5 months

  • Contract
  • Kenya


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.

For every child, Access to Health care

A key priority for UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) is ensuring that all countries are well prepared for, and respond to emergencies, including public health emergencies, timely, effectively, and in a manner that contributes to building resilience.

Over two years since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 458 million confirmed cases including 6 million deaths had been reported to WHO, with Africa accounting for around 3% of all cases and 4.2% of all deaths globally. Previously spared by other global pandemics the southern subregion has borne a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 cases and deaths per population, including among health workers. 

From 1 January 2022 to 1 March 2022, the eastern and southern African region has experienced a concerning increase in the number of new public health events including re-emergence of yellow fever and wild polio virus, new outbreaks of measles and cholera among other epidemics. Coupled with chronic humanitarian crises resulting from drought and conflict, these events are anticipated to have serious health impacts particularly for already vulnerable children, women and communities. Whilst previous Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreaks underscored the importance of preparedness including enhanced core capacity for public health response, and ensuring continuity of essential services  the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic had an unprecedented impact on public health systems, contributing to a previously unseen scale of disruption of essential health programmes, especially routine immunization and maternal and newborn care. Near exclusive focus on the COVID-19 pandemic over 2 years has had a drastic impact on disease surveillance in ESA countries including deceleration of early warning, surveillance and response, making countries vulnerable to potential explosion of disease outbreaks. As with COVID-19, disease outbreaks can contribute to some level of disruption of primary health care services due to focus on control efforts leading to erosion of gains accumulated over the years.   

There is therefore a critical need to support countries to rapidly scale up capacity to prevent, mitigate, and manage ongoing and emerging emergencies as well as to enhance capacity for preparedness and response to public health emergencies. Such support will contribute to building resilience to ensure that even while responding to future outbreaks the system has the capacity to cope without significant disruption of other lifesaving and essential health services (like immunization) and has the capacity to revisit standard services delivery modes during emergencies.

ESARO support for public health emergencies is in line with: its SoPs for early notification and coordination of public health emergencies, country office guidance for response to public health emergencies and in line with priority diseases and the Core Commitments for Children on public health emergencies and health in emergencies. The support is also in line with the seven-pillar cholera regional strategy focused on preventing, preparing for and responding to cholera.

In view of the emerging needs within the region and the need for enhanced support at the regional level, under the general supervision of the Regional Health Adviser, UNICEF ESARO is seeking to recruit a P4 Health Specialist on temporary appointment to provide technical guidance and oversight for preparedness and response to public health emergencies and health in humanitarian crises in eastern and southern Africa region.

How can you make a difference?

Preparedness and response to public health emergencies in the eastern and southern Africa region

  • Monitor public health events in the region, follow up notification and response with countries, HQ and partners, ensuring that information on the events is updated and shared with relevant parties as needed.
  • Support UNICEF country offices in the development/updating on health emergency work planning, contingency planning processes with other sectors to ensure cross sectoral response programming and resilience building and other relevant documents as needed.
  • Support development and review of health emergencies related resource mobilization proposals and reports, relevant TA and funding applications documents as needed.
  • Conduct country support missions as part of the first line of regional response to public health events and/or in response to TA requests/ joint preparedness and performance monitoring including for accelerated disease control initiatives


Technical assistance for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out

  • Collaborate with the Regional Immunization team to facilitate smooth COVID-19 vaccine roll out in ESAR countries including but not limited to resource mobilization, monitoring, identification and addressing bottlenecks in countries and providing technical assistance as required for planning and reporting.
  • Monitor vaccine roll out in humanitarian settings, identifying bottlenecks and collaborating with the Regional immunization team to support countries to address them.
  • Lead the development of technical updates and documents for use by ESAR countries with respect to implementation in humanitarian situations including using integrated approaches and existing emergency mechanisms.
  • Contribute to enhanced coordination through engagement with the ESA COVID-19 vaccine deployment working group, country support team of the global COVID-19 vaccine deployment partnership, and any other coordination mechanisms related to the implementation and monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine introduction and roll out.


Maintain internal and external collaborations and partnerships

  • Support coordination of the UNICEF ESARO cross sectoral public health emergencies group in response to new and emerging events.
  • Support review of ESARO supported COVID-19 related mechanisms and collate lessons.
  • Support coordination of UNICEF cross sectoral participation in the following external regional health emergency coordination platforms including:
    1. COVID-19 ESA coordination forum (health partners’ group; technical working groups);
    2. Regional Economic Communities technical PHE support to EAC, SADC, IGAD as requested/based on developing partnerships
    3. Africa CDC partnership – regional and RCC level coordination on PHEs in line with the UNICEF-Africa CDC framework. 
    4. Ad-hoc relevant coordination forums/mechanisms


Capacity building

  • Provide carefully curated public health emergency guidance, reports and other information to all country focal points, health managers and chiefs of health as needed.
  • Develop the expression of interest for national health specialists/officers, and the PHE consultancy roster and review, assess, and recommend candidates for selection.  
  • Support the completion and rollout of the PHE toolkit in priority countries.
  • Support the development of the Maternal newborn health package for humanitarian settings.
  • Compile and update a package for cholera response capacity building in collaboration with WASH and social and Behaviour change regional focal points.


Knowledge management

  • Analysis and risk informed planning: Lead the deployment of the public health emergencies risk analysis in selected countries in collaboration with country health teams and use the findings to develop health sector emergency preparedness and response plans with subnational level analysis and outputs.
  • Technical guidance: Provide technical support to UNICEF country offices and partners including contributing to the development/adaptation of or sharing relevant standards, protocols, guidelines and training materials for public health and health in humanitarian crises.  
  • In collaboration with WASH and social and behavior change, conduct a regional stock take and review of the ESARO Cholera Strategic Framework 2017-2020 and update as necessary.


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

  • Education:

    Advanced university degree in public health (MSc or PhD), plus degree in health field (MD or other related health discipline).


    • A minimum of 8 years of progressively responsible experience in public health, with field experience in responding to health emergencies. This includes coordination & partnerships, risk assessments, planning, programming, implementation monitoring and evaluation of public health emergency programs relevant to communicable disease control. Within disease control, expertise mainly in: viral haemorrhagic diseases; vaccine preventable diseases; epidemiology & surveillance; International Health Regulations including JEEs/country core capacity assessments.
    • Experience with UNICEF and other agencies/NGOs in emergency settings agency, and/or INGOs.
    • Country work experience in the region with work experience in a district health system is an advantage.

    Language Requirements:

    Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of French or Portuguese (a working language in some ESA countries) is an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA).

The UNICEF competencies required for this post are…

  • Builds and maintains partnerships (2)
  • Demonstrates self-awareness and ethical awareness (2)
  • Drive to achieve results for impact (2)
  • Innovates and embraces change (2)
  • Manages ambiguity and complexity (2)
  • Thinks and acts strategically (2)
  • Works collaboratively with others (2)
  • Nurtures leads, and manages people(2)

To view our competency framework, please visit here.


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.

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