Health Systems Specialist

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Mission and objectives
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.

UNICEF Malawi Country Programme (2019-2023) is aligned with the Government of Malawi’s Growth and Development Strategy (MDGS III) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). The programme supports the Government of Malawi to meet its commitment to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights in line with international conventions and standards. The country programme is guided by the principles of children’s rights, equity, gender equality, inclusion and resilience, and supports evidence-based, integrative and innovative programming. The vision is that ”all girls and boys in Malawi especially the most disadvantaged and deprived, realize their rights”. The programme focuses on early childhood (parenting, high-impact social services, early stimulation and learning), middle childhood and adolescence (learning, multi-sectoral services, active citizenship), communities (decentralized services and systems, community ownership, social norms), programme effectiveness (monitoring, evaluation, HACT, Innovation, Social Protection and Social Policy and External Communication. The programme is based on “leaving no child behind”, realizing ‘rights for all children in Malawi’.


This is an exciting opportunity to support UNICEF Malawi’s flagship programme for Health Systems Strengthening. This is a UN Joint Programme (UNJP) lead by the Malawi UN Resident Coordinators Office (RCO) with UNICEF as the lead agency along with UNFPA and WHO as participating UN organizations.

The programme is designed to strengthen primary health care and promote universal
health coverage thereby improving healthcare for the most vulnerable sections of the population, namely women and children. The aim is to develop a responsive and resilient health system distinguished by its better quality, integrated and more accountable health services.

The UNJP will identify and build upon the complementarities of the three agencies (WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF), bring together the added value of each of the partners to address the multifaceted areas of health system strengthening, primary health care and achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC)— all important contributions towards sustainable development in Malawi.

UNJP will be working alongside Government of Malawi (GoM) in health policy formulation for delivery of maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services and systems strengthening, directly implementing and effectively managing downstream partners for health workforce skills enhancement, community health workers coordination and skills building, integration of health services, quality improvement, effective work with communities on accountability initiatives; and in emergency
preparedness and response interventions with flexibility to adjust priorities in responding to health shocks as they arise.

Task description
Within the delegated authority and under the supervision of Health Specialist (Health Systems Specialist) or his/her designated mandated representative(s), the UN Volunteer Health System Specialist will:

Support development and planning of the UNJP health systems strengthening programme, to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes

Support and contribute to the preparation, design and updating of the situation analysis for the sector(s) to establish a strategic plan for development, design and management of the UNJP programme.

Participate in strategic programme discussions on the planning of health programmes. Support the formulation, design and preparation of the proposal, ensuring alignment with UNICEF’s Strategic Plan, the Country Programme, as well as coherence/integration with the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), regional strategies, and national priorities, plans and competencies.

Establish specific programme goals, objectives, strategies, and implementation plans based on results-based planning terminology and methodology (RBM). Prepare required
documentations for programme review and approval.

Work closely and collaboratively with colleagues and partners to discuss strategies and
methodologies, and to determine national priorities and competencies to ensure the
achievement of concrete and sustainable results.

Provide technical and operational support throughout all stages of programming processes to ensure integration, coherence and harmonization of programmes/projects with other UNICEF sectors and achievement of results as planned and allocated

Plan and/or collaborate with internal and external partners to establish monitoring benchmarks, performance indicators, and other UNICEF/UN system indicators and measurements to assess and strengthen performance accountability, coherence and delivery of concrete and sustainable results for the UNJP HSS programme.

Participate in monitoring and evaluation exercises, programme reviews and annual sectoral reviews with the government and other counterparts to assess progress and to determine required action/interventions to achieve results.

Prepare and assess monitoring and evaluation reports to identify gaps, strengths and/or
weaknesses in programme management, identify lessons learned and use knowledge gained for development planning and timely intervention to achieve goals.

Actively monitor programme through field visits, surveys and/or exchange of information with partners/stakeholders to assess progress, identify bottlenecks, potential problems and take timely decisions to resolve issues and/or refer to relevant officials for timely resolution.

Provide technical guidance and operational support to government counterparts, NGO
partners, UN system partners and other country office partners/donors on the interpretation, application and understanding of UNICEF policies, strategies, processes, and best practices and approaches on health-related issues

Participate in discussions with national partners, clients and stakeholders to promote health and development issues, especially in the areas of primary healthcare, universal health coverage, maternal and neonatal health, and child survival and development.

Draft policy papers, briefs and other strategic programme materials for management use, information and consideration.

Participate in emergency preparedness initiatives for programme development, contingency planning and/or to respond to emergencies in country, if requested.

Build and sustain effective close working partnerships with health sector government
counterparts, national stakeholders, as well as global partners, allies, donors, and academia. Through active networking, advocacy and effective communication, build capacity and exchange knowledge and expertise to facilitate the achievement of programme goals on quality, integration, resilience and governance.

Prepare communication and information materials for programme advocacy to promote
awareness and transparency and establish partnerships/alliances.

Participate and/or represent UNICEF in appropriate inter-agency discussions and planning on health-related issues and ensuring organizational position, interests and priorities are fully considered and integrated in the process of development planning and agenda setting.

Apply and introduce innovative approaches and good practices to build the capacity of partners and stakeholders, and to support the implementation and delivery of concrete and sustainable programme results.

Keep abreast and conduct research to provide evidence for implementation of best and cutting edge practices in health.

Assess, institutionalize and share best practices and knowledge learned.

Contribute to the development and implementation of policies and procedures to ensure optimum efficiency and efficacy of sustainable programmes and projects.

Organize and implement capacity building initiatives to enhance the competencies of
stakeholders to promote sustainable results on health related programmes/projects.


Required experience

5 years of experience in professional work at the national and/or international level in public health planning and management, health financing, community health, primary health care, health systems strengthening and quality improvement, maternal and newborn health system or other relevant programmes; experience in developing country context is an asset, as is experience working in the UN or other international development organization

Excellent oral and written skills; excellent drafting, formulation, reporting skills

Accuracy and professionalism in document production and editing

Excellent interpersonal skills; culturally and socially sensitive; ability to work inclusively and collaboratively with a range of partners, including grassroots community members, religious and youth organizations, and authorities at different levels; familiarity with tools and approaches of communications for development

Ability to work and adapt professionally and effectively in a challenging environment; ability to work effectively in a multicultural team of international and national personnel

Solid overall computer literacy, including proficiency in various MS Office applications (Excel, Word, etc.) and email/internet; familiarity with database management; and office technology equipment

Self-motivated, ability to work with minimum supervision; ability to work with tight deadlines

Sound security awareness

Have affinity with or interest in children’s health

Area(s) of expertise

Driving license

English, Level: Fluent, Desirable

Required education level
Master degree or equivalent in public health/nutrition, global/international health, health policy and/or management, environmental health sciences, social medicine, pediatric health, family health, health research, biostatistics, epidemiology, health education or another relevant technical field.

A first-level university degree or equivalent in combination with relevant training and/or professional experience may be accepted in lieu of an advanced university degree.

Competencies and values
Professionalism: demonstrated understanding of operations relevant to UNICEF; technical capabilities or knowledge relevant or transferrable to UNICEF procedures and rules; discretion, political sensitivity, diplomacy and tact to deal with clients; ability to apply good judgement; ability to liaise and coordinate with a range of different actors, especially in senior positions.

Integrity: demonstrate the values and ethical standards of the UN and UNICEF in daily activities and behaviors while acting without consideration of personal gains.

Teamwork and respect for diversity: ability to operate effectively across organizational boundaries; excellent interpersonal skills; ability to establish and maintain effective partnerships and harmonious working relations in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, mixed-gender environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity; sensitivity and adaptability to culture, gender, religion, nationality and age.

Planning and organizing: effective organizational and problem-solving skills and ability to manage a large volume of work in an efficient and timely manner; ability to establish priorities and to plan, coordinate and monitor (own) work; ability to work under pressure, with conflicting deadlines, and to handle multiple concurrent projects/activities;

Communication: proven interpersonal skills; good spoken and written communication skills, including ability to prepare clear and concise reports; ability to conduct presentations, articulate options and positions concisely; ability to make and defend recommendations; capacity to transfer information and knowledge to a wide range of different target groups

Genuine commitment towards the principles of voluntary engagement, which includes solidarity, compassion, reciprocity and self-reliance; and commitment towards UNICEF’s mission and vision, as well as to the UN Core Values.

To apply for this job please visit .

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