National Internship – Support to implementation of district nutrition interventions

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BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION

The fundamental mission of UNICEF is to promote the rights of every child, everywhere, in everything the organization does — in programmes, in advocacy and in operations. The equity strategy, emphasizing the most disadvantaged and excluded children and families, translates this commitment to children’s rights into action. For UNICEF, equity means that all children have an equal opportunity to survive, develop and reach their full potential, without discrimination, bias or favouritism. To the degree that any child has an unequal chance in life — in its social, political, economic, civic and cultural dimensions — her or his rights are violated. There is growing evidence that investing in the health, education and protection of a society’s most disadvantaged citizens — addressing inequity — not only will give all children the opportunity to fulfil their potential but also will lead to sustained growth and stability of countries. Therefore, the focus on equity is so vital. It accelerates progress towards realizing the human rights of all children, which is the universal mandate of UNICEF, as outlined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, while also supporting the equitable development of nations.

However, despite decades of strong work in these sectoral areas, inequity remains.  While progress is being made, something different is required to accelerate progress towards not just long term and sustainable development improvements. One method of driving significant impacts for the most vulnerable and excluded children who may still be left behind is to ensure children, adolescents and mothers have access to the right foods and quantities and have access to interventions to prevent all forms of malnutrition.

Since the adoption of the global Scaling Up Nutrition movement in 2011 Malawi has been implementing 13 high impact SUN interventions for children following a life cycle approach and has reduced stunting among under-five children from 47% in 2010 to 37% in 2015-16 (Malawi Demographic and Health Survey).  In addition, approximately 35 per cent of adolescent girls in the age group of 15-19 years suffer from some form of anaemia and overweight within the same age group has been steadily increasing from 4.2 in 1992 to 6.5% in 2015/16. Nearly thirteen per cent (12.9%) of adolescent girls are thin.   While there is remarkable progress in combatting malnutrition in under-five children, Malawi noted an apparent Policy and interventions gap targeting the Adolescent Population (10 – 19 years) ) which constitutes more than a quarter (27 per cent) of the national population (Integrated Household Survey5, 2020). Malawi Government has recently taken bold steps in addressing Adolescent Nutrition considering its public health significance as per the WHO thresholds of nutritional deficiencies where intermittent iron and folic acid supplementation is recommended if anaemia prevalence is 20% or higher among non-pregnant women of reproductive age (WHO Implementing effective actions for improving adolescent nutrition 2018).

In 2019, UNICEF supported the pilot of Weekly Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) supplementation and interventions among adolescent girls in six districts (Lilongwe, Salima, Mangochi, Machinga, Dedza and Dowa) using multi-sectoral collaboration between the Ministry of Health and Population and Ministry of Education. The target is adolescent girls (10-19 years) enrolled in school settings, and all out of school adolescent girls in community settings. Weekly, adolescent girls receive an IFA tablet containing 60 mg elemental iron and 2800 ug Folic acid and is taken for 52 weeks in a year. Multisector weekly IFA supplementation programme showed promising results in 2019 with 70.3% of adolescent girls reached with weekly IFA supplementation through schools and community platforms. In 2020, the country managed to reach 47% of the total adolescent population in the 6 districts with a 23.4% decline from 2019 due to the abrupt closure of schools for about 6 months. In the fourth quarter of 2020, UNICEF supported the Government with the recruitment of the first cohort of interns to strengthen the adolescent nutrition programme through the office of the Principal Nutrition, HIV/AIDS Officers (PNHAO) in the 6 initial programme districts.

The Ministries of Education, Science and Technology and Health have played an important role in ensuring greater coverage, counselling, and tracking of compliance of IFA in Schools and community platforms. However, challenges have emerged from the different structures in communication and reporting between health and education structures. IFA compliance among the adolescents continues to be a challenge due to cultural beliefs and misconceptions that by December 2020, compliance was at 36% against the target of at least 60%  UNICEF Malawi would like to support the Ministry of Education Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health in strengthening IFA compliance tracking and monthly reporting on comprehensive adolescent nutrition package (dietary diversification, and supplementation) at the district level.

As such, based on the gaps that the district councils identified, the recommendations from the field, Department of Nutrition, HIV/AIDS and the successful support by the first cohort of interns in improving monthly district data collection, UNICEF would like to continue with the support in strengthening the 6 districts’ capacity by recruiting 1 intern per district to be based at the District Council to work under the direct supervision of  Principal Nutrition and HIV/AIDS Officers in monitoring and tracking district nutrition package (IFA supplementation, promotion of dietary diversification among children and adolescents, Social Behavioural Change Communication, Multiple Micronutrient Programme, Vitamin A supplementation and CMAM) in school, health and community platforms so that up-to-date data is provided in a timely manner to the national level for evidence generation and appropriate action. The use of interns will facilitate the use of innovative ways to identify effective community platforms to provide nutrition education to motivate adolescents in increasing their knowledge, awareness, attitude, and general behaviour for preventing anaemia and improving their overall nutritional status.

The Nutrition section of UNICEF Malawi seeks to recruit a national District Nutrition Intern who is interested to enhance his/her educational experience through practical work assignments while being exposed to UNICEF’s mandate and operations as well as learning on child rights and equity issues.  The internship programme is also expected to provide Malawi with the assistance of qualified students specialized in the Nutrition field.  The intern will perform a support role to the District Principal Nutrition, HIV/AIDS Officers in monitoring and tracking district nutrition package (IFA supplementation, promotion of dietary diversification among children and adolescents, Social Behavioural Change Communication, Multiple Micronutrient

The programme, Vitamin A supplementation and Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM)) in schools, health and community platforms so that up-to-date data is provided in a timely manner to the national level for evidence generation and appropriate action.

He/she will be expected to be an active participant, collaborative and work among the team who will ensure correctness, timeliness and consistency of information related to District Nutrition interventions.  All these should be consistent with the overall goal of meeting the needs and requirements for UNICEF programmes.

OBJECTIVE AND SCOPE OF WORK

The main purpose of the internship programme will be to support UNICEF programme implementation at the district level while ensuring the development and enhancement of the intern’s professional and educational experience through practical work assignments, exposure to UNICEF work across the country and beyond.

The District Nutrition Intern will be responsible for assisting the District Principal Nutrition, HIV/AIDS Officer in all the roles and duties to ensure consistency and timeliness.  The intern will be part of the team where certain roles and responsibilities are shared and the objective of the team effort is to ensure convergence, collaboration and consistency in shared tasks for optimal results in the two sections and ultimately for pillar one.

How can you make a difference?

The intern will ensure UNICEF nutrition supported interventions are implemented with a focus on tracking on quality, monthly coverage and compliance for District Nutrition interventions. This includes, but not limited to:

  • Support the mapping of nutrition interventions at districts level as well key partners roles and responsibilities to ease coordination and synergy between actors
  • Support the District Principal Nutrition and HIV/AIDS Officer, District Nutrition Officer in analysing and compilation of monthly district adolescent nutrition data for district use and submission to national level
  • Track programme coverage of Social Behavioural Change Communication interventions including nutrition education and counselling sessions on monthly basis for both platforms
  • Monitor monthly IFA and vitamin A supplements, Ready To-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF), and Multiple-micronutrient Powder (MNP) stock levels in Health Facilities and schools.
  • Provide on the job support to frontline workers and ensure compliance with SAM protocol as per MoH standards.

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

Enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate (Masters or higher) degree programme or be a recent graduate (graduated within the past two years) in field of in Nutrition, Food Science, Environmental Health, Nursing or related field.

Applicants must have excellent academic performance demonstrated by recent university or institution records

Technical skills and knowledge:

  • Team building and good interpersonal skills
  • Good analytical skills
  • Data compilation and presentation skills

Work Experience

Additional consideration will be given for any past experience, specifically experience in implementation of nutrition related interventions at health, school or community levels.

Languages

Fluency in English and Chichewa is required.

Other requirements

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
  • Ability to communicate clearly.
  • Strong analytical and good report writing and presentation skills.

Apply Now

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