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Public Health Epidemiologist, UN High Commission for Refugees, Nairobi

Friday, 23rd of September 2016 Print

Public Health Epidemiologist

from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Closing date: 26 Sep 2016

Public Health Epidemiologist (P-3)

East& Horn of Africa


The overarching objectives of the Public Health Section is to enable refugees to fulfil their rights in accessing lifesaving and essential health care, HIV prevention, protection and treatment, reproductive health services, nutrition, food security and water, sanitation and hygiene services and to improve quality of life for refugees.

UNHCR public health programmes are increasingly focusing on the alternatives to camps and the integration into national health care systems. There is an increasing support for refugees to access these national health care services rather than vertical health care system. Therefore the health information requirements are changing.

To ensure evidence based assessments, planning and programming UNHCR needs to analyse and interpret epidemiological data collected with specifically developed tools through the application of scientifically sound methods. To fulfil this specific objective UNHCR requires the expertise of a public health epidemiologist with experience in operational research and analysis of data from multiple sources.

The incumbent is responsible for the provision of all public health epidemiology in UNHCR. The Public Health Epidemiologist is an active member of the Public Health Section and will report to the Chief of PHS. The incumbent is expected to be able to work within remote management modalities. The incumbent is expected to have a global coverage with regular and long missions to the field.



  • UNHCR is provided with strong analysis of all public health and epidemiological data.
  • Country offices are provided with technical support for evidence-based public health decision making.


  • Undertake operational research to inform and improve programmatic response, in particular to build an evidence-base for effective and efficient public health programming in refugee operations and to assimilate and interpret data to produce best practice/lessons learnt.
  • Develop and promote the implementation of innovative operational approaches and tools and provide the necessary guidance and training.
  • Develop context-specific adapted sampling models and analytical algorithms for existing tools such as the Health Access and Utilisation Survey (HAUS), Balanced Score Cards (BSC), WASH monitoring system and the nutrition surveys and data collection.
  • Technically guide the development of new tools such as the Knowledge Attitudes and Practices (KAP) Surveys, mortality surveillance, rapid refugee public health assessments and others as required.
  • Carry out field-epidemiological surveys/ data collection using the aforementioned tools in priority countries/ operations
  • Support and systematically follow up with country operations on data collection, analysis, interpretation, reporting
  • Conduct trainings and other capacity building measures for UNHCR and partner public health staff.
  • Liaise closely with UNHCR Public Health Officers to ensure a regular flow of public health data from country to regional to HQ level and vis-versa.
  • Participate in needs assessments, monitoring and real-time evaluation of health programmes, critical public health events, such as disease outbreaks and emergency interventions.
  • Participate in needs assessments, monitoring and real-time evaluation of health programmes, critical public health events, such as disease outbreaks and emergency interventions.
  • Innovation and development of new data collection tools where applicable.
  • Ensure linkages and inclusion into the UNHCR global public health data collection system.
  • Advise and support regional and country technical specialists, including on the adaptation and implementation of the epidemiologic tool for the monitoring of strategic goals and priorities.
  • Ensure dissemination and implementation of internationally accepted standards, policies, and guidelines within UNHCR and among partners; adapt accordingly to the unique situation of refugee populations.
  • Provide technical assistance on operational research in public health programmes and interventions to regional and country public health officers.
  • Advise operations, bureaus and other divisions on the relevance of epidemiological operational research on operations planning, efficient and cost-effective programming and strategic results-orientation.
  • Mentor technical personnel in UNHCR and partners through trainings, updates and references.
  • Review and provide technical inputs on reports and programme plans/ proposals with the view to verify evidence-based prioritisation.
  • Support contingency planning, early warning and preparedness for public health responses and be available to rapidly deploy to the field from the onset of refugee emergencies to support the initial response and development of technical strategies, partnership arrangements and coordination structures.
  • Work in a multi-sectoral and co-ordinated approach within the public health sections, the regions and with external parties.
  • Facilitate capacity strengthening activities of UNHCR and its implementing partners to address key areas of public health epidemiology to ensure the technical integrity of the programmes.
  • Expand and establish strategic partnerships in key technical areas to support capacity of field operations as well mobilise specialised expertise as programme required including in emergencies.
  • Ensure that public health operational research is adequately addressed in in-house capacity building activities venues including training.
  • Ensure that current gaps in skills and knowledge in the area of public health epidemiology are addressed through training as well as on job support is provided during field missions.


  • Provide analysis and guidance for evidence based decision making in public health.

  • Guide and provide recommendations and determine quality of public health assessments and surveys.

  • Represent UNHCR in relevant technical meetings and fora.


  • University degree in Public Health Epidemiology

  • Minimum of 8 years (6 years with advanced university degree) progressively responsible functions in public health epidemiology.

  • At least 5 years of experience in humanitarian contexts with large-scale emergencies or displaced/refugee situations.

  • Experience and professional training in field-epidemiology.

  • Proficient in computer software, with advanced skills in statistical tools.

  • Excellent knowledge of English (written/oral/comprehension).


  • Working knowledge of another UN language, preferably French.

Operational Context

The changing environment of public health programming in UNHCR requires a changing nature of health information system data collection with strong focus on public health epidemiology. The incumbent is expected to have
1) Experience in emergency public health data collection (mortality survey, rapid assessments)
2) Have all round experience in public health data methodology for sampling adapted to the specific context including for out of camp and dispersed refugee communities.
3) Strong experience in public health epidemiology is required
4) Understand epi-info, Stata and other critical software for epidemiological data analysis.
5) Be field and operational oriented.
6) Have strong writing skills including lay out of publications.

Operational Context

The incumbent will be member of the Public Health Section, but be based in Nairobi. The incumbent will need to be an independent worker, and be able to be supervised through remote management.
Work pressure is high and person is expected to be able to adapt rapidly and to work under time pressure. Furthermore since this is the only public health epidemiologist, time management and prioritization will be important. The incumbent will represent UNHCR in critical meetings on public health and epidemiology.

Operational Context

The incumbent will be based in Nairobi, with a global coverage.
The incumbent should be able to travel on extreme short notice for longer period to emergencies, in hardship and remote duty stations.

Operational Context

Incumbent will need to be an independent worker.
Knowledge of another UN language at working level is desirable, but not a requirement.


Please apply on the UNHCR website at http://www.unhcr.org/careers.html, international vacancies

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