Health Specialist, P3, Accra-Ghana, Position #102499
UNICEF Ghana is seeking the services of a very experienced and skilled health professional to provide technical assistance and contribute to the management of the health component of the country programme with a clear focus on maternal and newborn care quality improvement, and delivering on a number of key strategic documents on which the Office has committed with the Ministry of Health - national strategy for WASH in healthcare facilities, and a national accountability framework for quality healthcare delivery.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families. Defending children's rights throughout their lives requires a global presence, aiming to produce results and understand their effects. UNICEF believes all children have a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential – to the benefit of a better world.
Background and Context
Ghana has seen improved overall survival rates and health outcomes for children over the past 10 years, although gains have not been universal and gaps remain in access to health and nutrition care and services. According to DHS reports 2008 and 2014, under-five child mortality declined by 25 per cent from 80 to 60 per 1,000 live births from 2008 to 2014, infant mortality by 18 per cent from 50 to 41 per 1,000 live births during the same period, and neonatal mortality declined by a mere 3 per cent from 30 to 29 per 1,000 live births.
Between 2000 and 2015, the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) declined by 32 per cent, with the MMR for 2015 estimated at 319 per 100,000 live births, against an MDG target of 185 per 100,000 live births.
The high MMR and stagnating neonatal mortality rate are very much in contrast to the high levels of antenatal care coverage of 87 per cent for the minimum recommended four antenatal care visits, and facility-based deliveries at 74 per cent (DHS 2014). In the same context of increasing facility-based deliveries, and paradoxically, institutional newborn and maternal deaths remain persistently high (NMR of 6 per 1,000, MMR of 142 per 100,000 live births).1
Ghana only recently (2012) recognized the high contribution of neonatal deaths to under-five mortality and acknowledged that no specific strategies had ever been put in place and applied to address neonatal mortality. Neonatal deaths now account for 71 per cent of infant deaths in the country and 48 per cent of under-5 deaths, implying that almost half of child deaths that occur in the first five years of life actually happen within the first 28 days from birth. The launch by the Ministry of Health in July 2014 of a National Newborn Health Strategy and Action Plan 2014-2018 set a clear resolve by the Government to tackle neonatal mortality and bend the mortality curve and so contribute to accelerate under-five mortality reduction. The strategy and action plan envision to reduce neonatal mortality from 29 per 1,000 live births in 2014 to 21 per 1,000 live births by 2018 and reduce institutional neonatal mortality rate by 35 per cent from its 2015 level of 5.3 per 1,000 live births.
The persistently high institutional maternal and neonatal mortalities point to a suboptimal quality of maternal and newborn care provided in healthcare facilities. Several issues negatively affect the quality of maternal and newborn healthcare and include low availability of up-to-date skilled healthcare workers; non-institutionalization of quality of care standards, unfriendly healthcare environment, lack of essential healthcare supplies (including medicines) and equipment, weak culture of accountability by care providers and managers, and negative staff attitudes towards service users (particularly adolescent girls and women from poorer households) and a weak healthcare financing system. On the user side, ignorance of their rights to healthcare of the best quality (including some negative misconceptions), their incapacity to demand accountability either as individuals or communities or civil society, compounded by low levels of education and poverty (all elements of their vulnerability) make them accept and condone healthcare services of any quality they receive in the health facilities.
It is within this context that the UNICEF Health and Nutrition programme has taken a number of commitments and is spearheading technical leadership in advocacy, policy and strategy development, and support to implementation of high-impact interventions to address the high neonatal mortality with a focus on quality improvement and assurance at the institutional level.
 Global Health Observatory accessed 10 October 2016 http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.MATMORT?lang=en , cited in the Situation Analysis.
 Ghana Ministry of Health - 2015 annual Holistic Assessment Report, July 2016.
How can you make a difference?
Reporting to the Chief of Health and Nutrition for guidance and general supervision, the incumbent will be responsible for providing oversight in the implementation, monitoring and reporting on the ongoing maternal and newborn care quality improvement initiative that is based on WHO’s latest quality of care standards for maternal and newborn health, and integrating essential newborn care and maternal care during the critical moment of delivery and immediately after, and PMTCT and paediatric HIV care
- Provide Technical and managerial oversight for the BMGF-funded maternal and newborn care quality improvement initiative
- National Strategy on WASH in Healthcare facilities developed
- Manage implementation of Natcom-funded and other newborn care projects
- Ensure quality monitoring and reporting on supported maternal and newborn health initiatives
- Provide oversight for programme/project knowledge management and evidence generation
- Support development of new Country Programme 2018-2022
To qualify as a/an [champion or advocate] for every child you will have…
- An Advanced University Degree in public health/nutrition, pediatrics, family health, health research, global/international health, health policy and/or management, epidemiology or other health related science is required.
A minimum of 5 years of relevant professional work experience in public health planning and management and/or in relevant areas of maternal and neonatal health care, health emergency/humanitarian preparedness, at the international level some of which preferably in a developing country and middle-income country context is required. A rich experience in newborn care, PMTCT and paediatric HIV care and maternal and neonatal quality assurance would be an important asset. Relevant experience in health programme/project development and management in any UN system agency or organization would be an added asset.
- Developing country work experience and/or familiarity with emergency is considered an asset.
- Fluency in English (both spoken and written) is required. Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) or a local language is an asset. Very good writing skills an asset.
Remarks: Ghana is a serene country. The type of appointment to this position will be "Temporary Appointment" for a duration of 364 days.
For every Child, you demonstrate…
Our core values of Commitment, Diversity and Integrity and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.
UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified candidates from all backgrounds to apply.
- Organization: UNICEF - United Nations Children’s Fund
- Location: Accra
- Grade: Mid/Senior
- Health service
- Closing Date: 2017-07-27