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Unit Chief, Risk Factors and Nutrition

Washington D.C.

  • Organization: WHO - World Health Organization
  • Location: Washington D.C.
  • Grade: P-5, International Professional - Internationally recruited position
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Nutrition
    • Disaster Management (Preparedness, Resilience, Response and Recovery)
    • Managerial positions
  • Closing Date: 2022-10-21

This requisition is for employment at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO)

The Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health (NMH) Department promotes, coordinates, and implements technical cooperation activities, directed at the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases and related risk factors, mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders and disabilities, promotion of optimal nutrition and road safety, and violence prevention, that are evidence-based and appropriate for the political and sociocultural context in which they are implemented. It raises political and public awareness and understanding of the burden of the most common noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mental disorders, related risk factors and conditions and leads multi-sector and multi-stakeholder strategic and collaborative efforts aimed at strengthening Member States' capacity to promote and protect health through public policies, programs, and services. This will reduce risks and disease burden and contribute to improving the physical, mental, and social well-being of the population.


Under the general supervision of the Assistant Director (AD), and the direct supervision of the Director, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health (NMH), the incumbent is responsible for, but not necessarily limited to, the following assigned duties:

  1. Provide technical and strategic advice and policy and programmatic direction for technical cooperation at the regional and sub-regional levels, for nutrition and the prevention and control of noncommunicable disease (NCD) risk factors including tobacco, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol, in order to strengthen capacities of Member States to respond to the burden of NCDs and related risks;
  2. Lead the Organization´s technical cooperation to support Member States in the implementation and execution of the relevant topics in the PAHO Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas 2018-2030, including: Plans of Action for the Prevention and Control of NCDs; Prevention of Obesity in Children and Adolescents; Strategy and Plan of Action to Strengthen Tobacco Control in the Region of the Americas 2018-2022; Plan of Action to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol; Plan of Action for the Elimination of Industrially Produced Trans-Fatty Acids 2020-2025 and other relevant mandates, consistent with country needs and the Organization’s overall policies and plans;
  3. Advise Member States on the development of their national noncommunicable disease prevention and control programs, including regulation of risk factors, and in identifying research priorities;
  4. Develop and strengthen the dialogue, interaction and collaboration with governmental sectors other than health, United Nations (UN) agencies, academia, civil society and private industry in line with WHO guidance on avoiding conflicts of interest, in order to foster intersectoral approaches to tackle NCDs and related risks, as well as to promote optimal nutrition and physical activity;
  5. Guide the development and dissemination of best practices for the management of NCD risk factors and nutrition within the Organization, including at country level;
  6. Mobilize national and international political, technical and financial resources to support and expand regional, sub-regional and national programs and activities related to NCD Risks and Nutrition; coordinate the preparation of projects and proposals to support these programmatic areas;
  7. Review and analyze data; integrate relevant technical facts, consolidate and disseminate technical and scientific information related to situations and trends in NCD Risk Factors and Nutrition throughout the Organization and at country level; ensure technical excellence in all relevant documents and publications produced by the Organization;
  8. Expand and manage the networks of experts, collaborating centers and inter-country cooperation strategies to develop and implement interdisciplinary training research and program development;
  9. Lead the work of the Unit of Risk Factors and Nutrition in planning, implementing, resourcing and monitoring work plans, consistent with country needs and the Organization’s overall Strategic Plan;
  10. Provide leadership, supervision and monitoring of staff assigned to the Unit through setting clear work objectives, use of timely performance reviews and feedback, regular communication, and solving interpersonal or technical conflicts; monitor changes in workload in order to ensure equitable distribution of work to maintain optimal efficiency and output as well as job satisfaction; redistribute work when necessary; follow up on any deviations in work output;
  11. Promote a culture of ethical behavior and integrity in accordance with the Organization’s Code of Ethical Principles and Conduct in order to ensure a culture of respect, responsibility, accountability, and compliance;
  12. Direct and participate in the development of policies and their implementation and provide authoritative advice in relation to policy and procedures under the areas of responsibility;
  13. Develop, define and establish the objectives, strategy, Biennial Work plan (BWP) and budget of the department; administer, allocate and monitor the financial, logistical and staff resources; prepare, and justify the program and budget proposals; ensure the timely monitoring, reporting and evaluation of results and accomplishments; report to the Governing Bodies and other oversight committees and agencies as required;
  14. Perform other related duties, as assigned.

Essential: A university degree in a health, biological or social science and a master’s degree in public health or in any other field related to the functions of the position, from a recognized institution.

Desirable: A Ph.D. degree in one of the public health disciplines, health risk analysis and management would be an asset.

You will be required to provide, in advance, a scanned copy of the degree(s)/diploma(s)/certificate(s) required for this position. WHO, only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED): PAHO will also use the databases and to support the validation process.


Essential: Thirteen years of combined national and international progressively responsible experience in noncommunicable diseases, and/or nutrition. Of these, at least five years should include supervision, management and /or coordination of multinational activities. The experience should include activities on epidemiology, surveillance, health promotion, risk regulation, disease prevention, or program evaluation and research. Experience should include technical cooperation at a senior decision-making level in institutions concerned with public health management.

Desirable: Specialized experience in organizational development, information management and analysis.

PAHO Competencies:
  • Overall attitude at work: Maintains integrity and takes a clear ethical approach and stance; demonstrates commitment to the Organization’s mandate and promotes the values of the Organization in daily work and behavior; is accountable for work carried out in line with his or her own role and responsibilities; is respectful towards, and trusted by, colleagues and counterparts.
  • Respecting and promoting individual and cultural differences: Relates well to diversity in others and capitalizes on such diversity. Treats all people with dignity and respect. Relates well to people with different cultures, gender, orientations, backgrounds and/or positions; examines own behavior to avoid stereotypical responses; considers issues from the perspective of others and values their diversity.
  • Teamwork: Advocates for collaboration across the Organization. Creates and encourages a climate of team- working and collaboration across the Organization; sees cooperation as a key Organizational priority and creates collaborative systems and processes to achieve Organizational goals. Actively identifies and tackles disagreements between internal and external counterparts that compromise the Organization’s goals and mandate; diplomatically facilitates the resolution of conflicts between others and ensures strategic partnerships with a range of key stakeholders; maintains and extends an effective collaborative network of individuals inside and outside the Organization.
  • Communication: Articulates the Organization’s strategic objectives when formulating and delivering information and presentations and adapts presentation methodology to address the needs of different audiences. Establishes a safe environment for others to express their views and takes those views into consideration in decision making as needed. Is aware of cultural differences and uses culturally appropriate non-verbal communication. Supervises (or oversees) and coordinates the development of guidelines, policies and strategies; ensures the Organization’s strategic objectives are well reflected through written communication and provides quality control for written documents. Shares decisions and directives of senior management and communicates them in a manner that ensures both understanding and acceptance; shares knowledge and best practice at the three Organizational levels (country, regional and global), as necessary.
  • Creating an empowering and motivating environment: Oversees and provides teams and departments with clear managerial directions which are translated from Organizational strategy. Builds a performance culture in the Organization; contributes to setting Organizational performance goals and standards; monitors Organizational performance against milestones and strategic goals; identifies and nurtures talent as appropriate. Promotes autonomy and empowerment throughout the Organization; inspires enthusiasm and a positive attitude in people towards their work and contribution to the Organization’s success.
  • Promoting innovation and Organizational learning: Ensures that knowledge and learning are shared across the Organization, transmitting a sense of responsibility and empowerment down the Organization; builds a culture that encourages learning and development by coaching and mentoring others. Drives and advocates for change as needed, continually promoting new ways to position the Organization for success; is recognized as a key resource within the Organization for generation of alternative perspectives on the Organization’s mission and work.
  • Ensuring effective use of resources: Sets specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely objectives for own team and/or the Organization; systematically analyses and anticipates priority projects for own team and allocates necessary resources to achieve them; identifies the cross-Organizational resources needed for large- scale projects in line with key Organizational objectives. Anticipates foreseeable changes and adapts own and team’s projects in the face of unforeseen circumstances and/ or challenges; creates measures and criteria to monitor progress of overall projects against key Organizational objectives; creates cost-effective solutions for the Organization.
Technical Expertise:
  • Technical: Extensive expertise at a senior decision-making level in public health with specialization in noncommunicable diseases and related risk factors, including risk regulation, epidemiology, prevention and control, managing complex health programs/ public health systems at both national and international levels. Wide and varied knowledge of public health problems and health management processes, including monitoring and performance assessment in the health or social sector, and disciplines related to strategic planning. Demonstrated ability in effective communication to advocate within the health sector and with non-health actors to address the causal factors for NCDs and malnutrition. Sound technical expertise and ability to plan strategically to strengthen technical cooperation programs.
  • Managerial: Extensive expertise in senior, progressively responsible positions in the management of a large public or private administration with administrative and technical matters requiring sensitive negotiation and high-level interventions. Demonstrated ability to provide professional leadership to strategic, organizational, managerial and analytic work in health; requiring resourcefulness, initiative, highly developed judgment and interpersonal skills to deal with difficult situations and sensitive issues, in order to establish and maintain effective working relations with people of different professional levels, discipline, nationalities, and cultural background.
  • Administrative: Skills in the creation and integration of administrative procedures for the delivery of highest quality results from teams, as well as experience in resource mobilization (including fundraising and partner collaboration) and familiarity with financial management, with the delivery of expected outcomes.


Very good knowledge of English or Spanish with a working knowledge of the other language. Knowledge of French and/or Portuguese would be an asset.

IT Skills:

Demonstrated ability to effectively use a computer and utilize software programs such as Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint and Outlook. Other IT skills and knowledge of software programs for Statistical Analysis, Data Visualization and Project Management would be an asset.

Annual Salary: (Net of taxes)
US$ 90,664.00 post adjustment

Post Adjustment: 48.2% of the above figure(s) Variations may occur.


Any appointment/extension of appointment is subject to PAHO Staff Regulations, Staff Rules and e-Manual. For information on PAHO please visit: http://www.paho.orgPAHO/WHO is an ethical organization that maintains high standards of integrity and accountability. People joining PAHO are required to maintain these standards both in their professional work and personal activities. PAHO/WHO also promotes a work environment that is free from harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, and other types of abusive behavior. PAHO conducts background checks and will not hire anyone who has a substantiated history of abusive conduct. PAHO/WHO personnel interact frequently with people in the communities we serve. To protect these people, PAHO has zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse. People who commit serious wrongdoing will be terminated and may also face criminal prosecution.

PAHO/WHO offers an attractive compensation package including an annual net salary and post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station and exchange rates (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance). Other benefits include: 30 days annual leave, dependency benefits, pension plan and health insurance scheme. Benefits for internationally recruited staff may include home leave, travel and removal expenses on appointment and separation, education grant for dependent children, assignment grant and rental subsidy. Candidates appointed to an international post with PAHO are subject to mobility and may be assigned to any activity or duty station of the Organization throughout the world. All applicants are required to complete an on-line profile to be considered for this post. Candidates will be contacted only if they are under serious consideration. A written test and/or interview will be held for this post. The post description is the official documentation for organization purposes.

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.