Health Specialist (Primary Health Care) : International UN Volunteer Specialist

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UN Volunteers

Mission and objectives

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 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.


Papua New Guinea (PNG) has an estimated population of about 11.8million people of which 86.8% live in rural areas; as well, they have more than 470,000 newborn delivered annually. PNG faces unique health care challenges due to its diverse geography and cultural landscape. Strengthening the capacity of communities to address primary health care needs is essential for improving health outcomes and achieving universal health coverage, towards fast tracking the achievement of SDG3. While there has been significant improvement in the health indices in the last 3 decades, Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR),Under 5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) and Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) have remained highest in the region. Demand for services at the community level remains very low with resultant poor utilization of primary health care services such as immunization, delivery in health facilities and nutrition. In PNG, the number of zero-dose children is very high, 50% of children are malnourished, many pregnant women do not attend Antenatal Care (ANC) and only about 40% deliver in a health facility. Additionally, Climate Change poses significant risks to the health and well-being of the population in Papua New Guinea. PNG is experiencing a variety of impacts due to climate change, including temperature increases, change in rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and extreme weather events all of which will have impact on health. PNG is in the process of finalizing the Village Health Assistant Policy and UNICEF has supported the National Department of Health (NDOH) to train more than 1,000 VHAs to support community level promotive and preventive interventions that will contribute to improved health outcomes for children and women in PNG.

Task description

The objective of this assignment is to support the NDOH to enhance the capabilities of Village Health Assistants (VHAs) and community health systems to provide effective, sustainable, and culturally appropriate and climate friendly primary health care services. Specifically, the UNV will work with NDOH and other partners to:

 Strengthen the capacity of VHAs to provide quality Maternal Newborn Child Health (MNCH) services

 Explore and recommend climate friendly interventions for strengthened primary health care

a. Policy Support and Development

 Work with the Provincial Health Authorities (PHAs) and district health authorities in the review of the status of current trained VHAs and identification of new VHAs to be trained

 Work with other partners to support NDOH in the review, finalization, and dissemination of the VHA policy

 Attend VHA meetings with other partners, at the national and subnational levels

b. Capacity Building of VHAs:

 Support the PHAs to train VHAs using the existing NDOH updated training curriculum focusing on skill enhancement, service delivery, and leadership, using the MNCH module including immunization to cover zero-dose children and nutrition

c. Community Engagement:

 Support the PHAs and district health authorities to facilitate the conduct of community mobilization activities and meetings.  Support VHAs to conduct community meetings in selected districts

 Support advocacy for the development of community systems for data management

d. Referral Systems for health and nutrition services

 Support the establishment of a functional system(s) from the community level to higher levels of care for mothers, newborns and children

e. Climate resilient primary health interventions

 Working with NDOH and PHAs to develop/review policies that support health sector response to climate change

 Engage local communities in the design of Primary Health Care (PHC) interventions unique to the environmental context

f. Monitoring and Evaluation

 Develop data management systems for community level interventions that is linked to NHIS

 Explore the use of digital tools for the management of data from VHAs

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Candidate must be a national of a country other than the country of assignment.

Required experience

3 years of experience in managing public health programmes, primary health care systems strengthening, community development projects or other relevant programmes; experience with climate policy development is an asset, as is experience working in the UN or other international development organization. Other desired/mandatory required technical knowledge;

 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 Microsoft Office applications (Excel, Word, among others), email, and 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 working with children, volunteerism as a mechanism for durable development, and the UN system.


English, Level: Fluent, Required

Required education level

Master degree or equivalent in Public health, Medical Doctor in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Development studies, and other relevant Social Science fields.

How to apply

Organization will accept online application only.

Link to apply : Health Specialist (Primary Health Care) | UVP (

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