Contract National Immunization Consultant at the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
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.
The Job : National Immunization Consultant
Job Status: Full Time Job,Graduate/Exp
Job Number: 519949
Work Type: Consultancy
Contract duration: 11.5 months
Background/Purpose of Assignment
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.
The routine immunization coverage in Nigeria has been very low for decades. According to WHO- UNICEF Estimate, the 2016 DPT3 coverage was 49% and MCV1 coverage was 51%. In 2016 NICS/MICS national coverage of Penta3 was 33.6% and state coverage range were between ranging from 3-80%. Lagos is the highest state with 80.2 % of Penta3 and Sokoto State with 3% of Penta3. Kano state is among the lowest State with 19.9 % of Penta3. Only 17.5% of children were fully Immunized. It was observed the huge disparity between the northern states and the southern States respectively 61% of children were not Immunized in North West States and only 8% were not Immunized in South East States. I was also noted the disparities in Immunization coverage, regarding the area of residence the coverage was only 25% in rural area while 51% of penta3 was reported in the urban area. The caretaker’s age represented 15% of coverage between 15 to 19 years and 32 to 39 % of penta3 coverage between 30 to 39 years. Caretaker’s Education was respectively 9% of coverage for the Non-formal education and the highest education was 74% of Penta3 coverage. The index quintile shows only 10% of children Immunized for the poorest quintile against 63% of Penta3 for the Richest.
Some of the factors contributing to the poor coverage include lack of awareness (42%) mistrust or fears (22) service delivery issues ( 25%), lack of time or other family issues ( 18%) other previous issues still relevant such as : Suboptimal governance and accountability of local officials; poor primary health care system with variable quality of program management at the States and Local Government Area (LGA) levels; variable distribution, capacity and retention of the health workforce; poor data quality; limited operationalization of the Reaching Every Ward (REW) strategy especially in high risk areas with poor linkage of services to communities; variable quality in vaccine management across States and LGAs; and incomplete community utilization of immunization services as evidenced by high dropout rates.
The key finding shows that: Immunization coverage varies dramatically across Nigeria but improvements are needed in every state, all states fall below the global goal of 90% coverage for 3 doses of pentavalent vaccine, also Immunization performance is weakest in north East and North-West zones where every state falls below 50% of penta3 coverage, children in rural areas are half as likely to be vaccinated as those is urban areas. Children of younger mother and caretakers are at greatest risk.
Due to the above result, the government of Nigeria made a declaration of State of Public Health Concern on RI Programs on June 17, 2017. As a result, the National Emergency Routine Immunization Coordination Centre (NERICC) has been established and the 18 low-performing states urged to put in place SERICC. Yobe has a functional SERICC and the current UNICEF consultant is providing technical support to this body.
UNICEF’s role in Nigeria is concentrated on technical support, advocacy and capacity building role rather than a service delivery role. The government looks up to UNICEF for technical expertise to be able to achieve international commitments and standards. In this context, the priorities of UNICEF Nigeria are therefore:
- High quality technical assistance
- Support to health systems strengthening at State and Local Government Area (LGA) levels
- Support for models and innovations and their subsequent replication or scale up using government resources with a particular focus on advocacy, communication and social mobilization, vaccine security and cold chain logistics (CCL).
- Support to Government to address inequities in Immunization that would contribute to improve programme performance and coverage rates
The position, in close collaboration with other partners at State level, will work with the State Ministry of Health (SMOH), State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA), State Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) and State Emergency Routine Immunization Coordination Center (SERICC) to achieve the main objective which is:
- Reach the un-immunized and under-immunized and improve equity in assigned State by end of assignment.
- To achieve this, the consultant will provide strong capacity and technical leadership and guidance to SERICC, assigned State to identify, review available data, plan equitably and address bottlenecks in the immunization programme of the State, with emphasis on routine immunization, measles control and polio eradication initiative.
Major Tasks to be accomplished
- Liaise with BMGF, the Dangote Foundation and the State Governor’s office to ensure commitments are met
- Provide guidance and technical support to SERICC
- Advocate to increase governments’ efforts to reduce number of un-immunized children, including supportive supervision and micro-planning.
- Advocate and communicate to generate demand, especially among the underserved. Proactively engage the SMOH, SPHCDA, State EOC, and other immunization partners at State level in immunization related issues.
- Provide technical assistance to the development of good quality State and LGA annual equity-focused operational plans and their review
- Support training activities and other capacity development activities of State Government for their health/immunization personnel
- Support State and LGA level supportive supervision, monitoring and evaluation of immunization programmes.
- Support the documentation, reporting and sharing of innovations, success stories and programme activities related to immunization in the assigned State
- Support the State to ensure fully functionality of SERICC
- Support the State to analyze and define LGAs with high numbers of un-immunized children and communities which are not being reached, the major bottlenecks, and the reasons for them. The baseline data will be collected within 3 months of assignment.
- Support the State to update and start implementing operational plans that include specific strategies, activities, and funding for reaching the unreached and reducing number of un-immunized children by the end of 3rd month of assignment.
- Support the State to develop and start implementing evidence-based communication strategies by end of 6th month of assignment.
Qualification or Specialized Knowledge/Experience
- Master’s in Public Health and University degree in Health related technical field.
- At least 5 years progressively responsible experience in designing, implementing and evaluating of health projects particularly, immunization programmes.
- Fluency in oral and written English is required. Knowledge of another UN working language an asset. Knowledge of local working language of the duty station, an asset.
- Knowledge of the latest developments and technology in related fields.
- Computer skills, including internet navigation and various office applications.
- Demonstrated ability to work in a multi-cultural environment and establish harmonious and effective working relationships, both within and outside the organization.
- Commitment to continuous learning for professional development.
- Initiative, passion and commitment to UNICEF’s mission and professional values.
How To Apply