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, Good 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.

In the Horn of Africa drought, three consecutive dry seasons have led to severe water scarcity and drought across Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Eritrea, killing livestock and crops, displacing populations, increasing the risk of disease, including vaccine-preventable diseases and malnutrition, thereby pushing children and families to their limits. As of mid-November 2022, the subregion had 36 million people and at least 17 million children currently facing drought which represents a 62% increase in families in need from 20 million in July 2022. UNICEF activated Corporate Emergency Activation Procedure (CEAP) L3 for the Horn of Africa drought crisis to bring attention to the crisis and facilitate the rapid scale-up of cross-sectoral response capacities in the affected countries. A key element of the response will be support for public health emergency preparedness including response to the ongoing Ebola ,cholera and measles outbreaks and health in emergencies, focused on the delivery of essential and lifesaving health services to drought-affected communities.

Almost three years since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 634.5 million confirmed cases with 6.6 million deaths have been reported to WHO, with Africa accounting for less than 2% of all cases and 2.75% of all deaths globally, 9.3 million cases with almost 180,000 deaths respectively. Previously spared by other epidemics, the southern subregion has borne a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 cases and deaths per population, especially among health workers and older persons.  Additionally, it has contributed to the disruption of essential health programs, especially routine immunization, resulting in the increase of un-and under-vaccinated children from 2 million in 2019 to 3.9 million in 2021. Focus on COVID-19 has negatively impacted on disease preparedness and response capacities in ESA countries resulting in deceleration of early warning, surveillance, and response, making countries vulnerable to delayed notification and potential explosion of outbreaks.

From 1 January 2022 to date, countries in the ESA region have experienced an alarming increase in the number of new, or re-emerging public health events including Ebola, Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, and wild poliovirus. Many of these diseases are occurring within the context of complex emergencies like drought and conflict.  From January 2022 to 22 November, over 30,000 measles cases with around 1000 deaths have been reported in the eastern and southern African Region (15,390 cases in Somalia alone). Over 20,000 cholera cases reported so far, including 11,345 from 25 drought-affected districts in Somalia since January 2022. An outbreak of Sudan Ebola Virus (SDV) that started in September 2022 has since spread to 9 districts in Uganda, elevating the risk for cross border spread to neighboring countries.

These events will have serious health impacts, particularly for already vulnerable children, women, and communities.

UNICEF ESAR has prioritized the critical need to support countries to rapidly scale up capacity to prevent, mitigate, and manage ongoing and anticipated emergencies as well as to enhance capacity for preparedness and response to public health emergencies, including the HoA drought, COVID-19, Ebola, and other emerging public health events. Such support will contribute to building resilience while ensuring the continuity of essential health services in the context of the scale-up of COVID-19 vaccination in vulnerable populations.

The Regional public health emergency and Immunization teams are expected to produce timely analyses of public health events, including programmatic linkages with immunization to help inform decision-making at the country level and for coordination of support with partners. Given the rapidly increasing burden of public health emergencies, the regional health team urgently needs to augment its capacity for surveillance, epidemiology, and implementation of disease control measures in the context of PHEs and humanitarian crisis.  This position will contribute to ensuring that the team can avail timely technical guidance and support at both Regional and Country Offices.

How can you make a difference?

Under the supervision of the Regional Advisor Health, the Health Specialist – Public Health Emergency will handle the following main responsibilities and tasks:

1. Preparedness and response to public health emergencies and humanitarian crises

    • Contribute to the development and dissemination of weekly and monthly summaries of emerging and ongoing public health events including those with cross-border impact, with recommendations for UNICEF focus at country and regional levels.
    • Contribute to key regional reports on major public health events (including drought, floods, and outbreaks such as measles, cholera, and VHFs) as needed.
    • Be deployed to countries responding to major public health events to augment their capacity as needed/requested.
    • Deploy the risk assessment tool to ESA-priority countries experiencing crises, contribute to improving/amend the tool for different contexts, and support for risk-informed planning and risk mapping including at the subnational level.

Contribute to the monitoring of surveillance activities in countries experiencing crises for timely decision-making in response and conduct visits to provide hands-on to country offices where required.


2. COVID-19 surveillance and response monitoring

    • Weekly monitoring of COVID-19 epidemiological trends at the global level, in Africa, and in the ESA region.
    • Review, summarise and share the latest technical guidance and scientific research on COVID-19
    • Contribute to the development of monthly updates on COVID-19 and other public health emergencies for management and other updates required by the Regional Health Advisor
    • COVID-19 vaccine rollout support:
      1. Monitor vaccine rollout in humanitarian settings, identifying bottlenecks and supporting the team (RO and CO) to address them
      2. Attend planning, review, and other related meetings and support follow-up actions related to the implementation and monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine introduction and rollout with a focus on fragile settings
      3. Support the RO team to develop periodic updates and document progress on the roll-out of the COVID -19 vaccine that includes up-to-date information on countries in crisis

3. Ebola Virus disease health related preparedness and response coordination

    • Contribute to risk assessment, support to preparedness, and response to countries at risk of Ebola virus disease transmission


4. Public Health emergencies Risk analysis

    • Contribute to periodic reviews of technical and operational information on public health emergencies in the ESA Region
    • Liaise with the regional and country health emergency focal points and partners to develop informative analytics on health emergency risks and events for monthly updates and periodic reports.
    • Participate in relevant partners’ technical working groups, internal coordination meetings, ad-hoc and other relevant emergency coordination forums, joint assessment, and response missions where required.
    • Maintaining the Health emergencies SharePoint

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

  • Advanced university degree in public health or applied epidemiology. A first-level university degree with a relevant combination of academic qualifications and 2 additional years of experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.
  • At least eight years of experience in the management of public health emergencies and vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks including cross-sectoral and multi-agency preparedness planning and coordination of response at the national and/or international level.
  • Ability to manage large data sets and to present information in multiple formats, including geospatial mapping tools (such as GIS) and visualization software like Power Bi, and others. Experience doing this with the UN, NGOs, or government in a developing country for outbreak response is a plus.

    Experience in technical writing including but not limited to official public health documents for UN agencies, contributions to government health policies and guidelines, and academic publications


    Familiarity with UNICEF processes and approaches is a highly desired asset

  • Developing country work experience and/or familiarity with emergencies is considered an asset.
  • Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) or a local language is an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s Core Values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, Accountability and Sustainability (CRITAS) underpin everything we do and how we do it. Get acquainted with Our Values Charter: https://uni.cf/UNICEFValues

UNICEF competencies required for this post are…

(1) Builds and maintains partnerships(2) Demonstrates self-awareness and ethical awareness(3)Drive to achieve results for impact(4)Innovates and embraces change(5) Manages ambiguity and complexity(6)Thinks and acts strategically(7)Works collaboratively with others.

During the recruitment process, we test candidates following the competency framework. Familiarize yourself with our competency framework and its different levels: competency framework here.

UNICEF is here to serve the world’s most disadvantaged children and our global workforce must reflect the diversity of those children. The UNICEF family is committed to include everyone, irrespective of their race/ethnicity, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socio-economic background, or any other personal characteristic.
We offer a wide range of benefits to our staff, including paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. UNICEF strongly encourages the use of flexible working arrangements.
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 is committed to promote the protection and safeguarding of all children. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles. 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.


UNICEF’s active commitment towards diversity and inclusion is critical to delivering the best results for children. For this position, eligible and suitable female candidates from industrial countries are encouraged to apply.

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.

UNICEF appointments are subject to medical clearance.  Issuance of a visa by the host country of the duty station, which will be facilitated by UNICEF, is required for IP positions. Appointments are also subject to inoculation (vaccination) requirements, including against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid). Government employees that are considered for employment with UNICEF are normally required to resign from their government before taking up an assignment with UNICEF. UNICEF reserves the right to withdraw an offer of appointment, without compensation, if a visa or medical clearance is not obtained, or necessary inoculation requirements are not met, within a reasonable period for any reason.

Advertised: E. Africa Standard Time
Deadline: E. Africa Standard Time