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UNICEF looks for committed professionals willing to engage in the challenging and rewarding work of advocating for children's rights, helping to meet their basic needs and expanding their opportunities to reach their full potential.

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Home-based Consultancy: Systematic review; the nutritional status of adolescents and children (7-18 years old) and the existing policies and programs to address their nutritional problems, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA)

Apply now Job no: 518396
Work type: Consultancy
Location: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Slovenia, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Categories: Nutrition, Consultancy

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1. Background
The study will be a cross sectional descriptive systematic review, which aims to review existing literature, policies and strategies, as well as existing data and evidence and provide relevant analysis and findings on estimated prevalence of all forms of micronutrient deficiencies (Anemia and Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Zinc deficiencies); over-weight and obesity and unhealthy dietary
patterns among children and adolescents (boys and girls) aged 7-18.
 
The demand for this study comes for the need to obtain evidence to inform the planning and lead the direction of ECARO in regards with adolescent and school age nutrition agenda.
 
Malnutrition in various forms persist and co-exist in various proportions with noticeable differences between countries in the region. Based on a report published by FAO in 2016, 20 percent (or 44.6 million) of women of reproductive age in the ECA region are anemic. EU-28 and European CIS countries, SEE and Central Asia- Caucasus, respectively accounted for 25.9, 7.7 and 7.7 million anemic women in the region. Unfortunately, the prevalence of anemia increased across all the subregions between 2005 and 2016 (including Europe), except for the Central Asian countries which could be related to absence of large scale flour fortification programs in Europe. Though we have no direct data from adolescent girls, one can expect the same trend among adolescent girls.
 
More than 55 percent of adults in Europe and Central Asia region are overweight or obese the similar trends can be seen among children. The number of overweight under-5-year-old children in ECA region have increased from 2.1 to 4.5 million from 2000 to 2017 (over 100% increase which is the greatest increase globally). Based on the estimations the number of overweight children greatly outweighs the number of children who are stunted or suffer from wasting (except for Tajikistan). At the same time, millions of young children are anemic, or suffer from iodine, zinc, or vitamin A and D deficiencies. The regional prevalence of Iron Deficiency Anemia is estimated at 20-40%. And per the global map of micronutrient deficiencies (Zinc, Iron, Vitamin A and Iodine), still the magnitude of the problem in CIS and parts of CEE is at moderate level. Though we have no systematic analysis over the trends of malnutrition among school age and adolescents boys and girls. 
 
The regional average for use of iodized salt is at 61 per cent (of which 51 per cent adequately iodized). Only 15 out of 22 countries in the Region have reached the 90% target. Infant and young child feeding practices are poor across the Region, with a 26% rate of Exclusive Breast Feeding (during the 6 months of life) ranking the poorest region globally. The prevalence of stunting in children under age of five years is estimated as is 12.5* in Central Asia (from 1.1 to 26.7%) and the prevalence of wasting at 3.8% (from 0.2 to 10.0%).
In ECA malnutrition in all its forms, and diet-related NCDs affect peoples’ health, productivity, and development potential on individuals, households and countries. The data shows that the nutritional status of children has improved, still in several countries (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan as well as Caucasus countries; Azerbaijan and Armenia) and some few CEE countries, out of every 10 children 1 to 3 are stunted. Poor nutrition among 7-18-year-old children and adolescents not only imposes major delays to their development and productivity but also can be a major risk factor for early development of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and a main contributor to high DALY (Disability Adjusted Life Years) values in the region, especially in countries of Eastern Europe with rapid rise in income levels over the last two decades. This’s while not much information is available on the nutritional status of the adolescents as well as the existing national policies and programs which are aiming at addressing this public health problem. Majority of the data are focused on early ages of life and some are outdated or sporadic without validity checks.
 
To fill this gap and to ultimately make evidence informed advocacy, policy and programing decisions regarding the major nutritional problems of the adolescent and school age children, a systematic review of all existing valid sources of information such as published studies, national surveys and etc on the nutritional status of the adolescents (including micronutrient deficiencies as well as over-weight and obesity, and under-nutrition) and the existing policies and programs in ECA region is planned.
 
The existing data are from very scattered and outdated sources, not systematized, clustered and statistically processed. In light of our recent funding from GTF for nutrition for 2018-21 for school age nutrition and adolescent (around 1.5 million to the nutrition of school age children and adolescents) in ECAR, having a sound understanding of the existing deprivation and bottlenecks as well as existing programs and policies is crucial for the regional office to plan its road map for the next few years. For the 8 countries in Central Asia and Caucasus, the study will be considered as the first multi-country evidence generation for nutrition policy advocacy and programming in the context of Regional Nutrition Partnership Platform. In addition, the study will contribute in identifying and applying the most relevant gender lens in nutrition programming in the region.
 
2. Objective
The overall aim of this study is to obtain an updated evidence base on the holistic nutritional status of the adolescents and school age girls and boys and the existing national policies, programs and strategies to prevent or to address them.
 
Specific objectives:
 
1. To update the estimated prevalence of all forms of micronutrient deficiencies (Anemia and Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Zinc deficiencies) as well as over-weight and obesity and unhealthy dietary patterns specifically among adolescents (boys and girls) in ECA countries;
 
2. To define and plot the trends of all forms of malnutrition as well as dietary patterns (which are specified under objective 1 for the period for which data is available;
 
3. To map the national policies, programs and strategies which are aiming at addressing the nutritional problems among adolescents and school age children in ECA countries with special focus on below elements;
  o School based programs for promotion of healthy nutrition, including programs for prevention of obesity
  o National level micronutrient supplementations
  o National regulations on marketing of food for children and adolescents
 
4. To identify and map the potential inequities in nutritional health of adolescents (boys and girls) (between sub-regions, between countries, within countries between different localities or marginalized groups, between boys and girls, age groups, socio-economical groups (to the extent available)
   o To derive a focused conclusion on adolescent girls nutritional deprivations
 
5. To identify the information gaps on the nutritional status of adolescents and school age children (boys and girls) and the existing policies, programs and strategies,
 
6. To propose evidence based recommendations to improve the nutritional status of adolescents and women/mothers;
 
3. Methodology and Technical Approach
After identifying the review team, an analytic framework will be developed, key questions based on the review’s objectives will be formulated, inclusion/exclusion criteria for existing literature, will be agreed upon and search terms based on different clusters of countries will be set. Consequently, the literature search will be launched for each country cluster, the data from the eligible resources will be extracted and summarized.
 
Ultimately the sub-national and where available the national prevalence of all forms of malnutrition will be estimated and a malnutrition index using data on all forms of malnutrition will be calculated and will be used for mapping of adolescents’ nutritional problems across the region. The choice of countries will be made based on relevance and the availability of the first quick round of search on existing sources of data. The preference is to include all countries in the region.
 
The same approach will be applied for reviewing the existing national policies, regulations. programs and strategies. A thorough research will be made to identify and understand the content of all existing national policies, programs and strategies aiming at improving the nutritional status of the adolescents with specific focus on prevention of micronutrient deficiencies and prevention and management of
over-weight and obesity.
 
Based on above review for every micronutrient, and every form of malnutrition (over-weight and obesity and stunting), the countries will be categorized into High, medium and low priority/ risk countries by tabulating the level of severity of the nutritional problems in a regional scale versus the situation of the preventive strategies/ programs. For every country, an adolescent and school age children nutritional profile in 2 pages will be developed, which includes all the extracted information on estimation of micronutrients deficiencies and other forms of malnutrition as well as the existing policies, program and strategies and the relevant maps.
 
Lastly the knowledge gap around the nutritional problems of adolescents and school age children, as well as the gaps in policies, programs and strategies to address the priority problems will be identified and prioritized and a set of main recommendations to improve the nutritional status of adolescents and women in ECAR will be proposed.
 
4. Activities, Deliverables, Indicators, Timeframe, and Schedule of Payment
 

N.B. All reports and presentations should be submitted in English

5. Management and Organization 
5.1. Management: The consultant will work under the direct supervision of UNICEF ECARO Health and Nutrition Specialist in consultation with adolescent and gender team.
5.2. Travel: No travels are forecasted, ad hoc trips if authorized will be covered by UNICEF as per the regulations
5.3. The Consultant will be responsible for organizing and coordinating all meetings with the counterparts as required.

6.Terms of payment

The consultancy fee shall be paid upon above matrix and upon approval of relevant deliverables by UNICEF.

7. Conditions of Work
This is a home-based consultancy. The consultant shall use his/her own facilities to manage the work. In case there is a presence of UNICEF office in the city where consultant is based and if the circumstances demand other than home-based working modality, the consultant shall be allowed to make use of available UNICEF office space, computer and internet facilities with prior notification and arrangement with the supervisor and UNICEF Admin/ICT. The provision of these facilities by UNICEF shall be subject to their availability.
 
8. Qualifications
The consultancy should possess the following qualifications:
• Experts with post-graduate degree in nutrition, or public health Nutrition, and nutrition epidemiology, epidemiology
• Minimum 10 years of working experience in designing and implementing similar studies and systematic reviews;
• Experience of undertaking similar reviews for nutritional status of children and adolescents
• Previous working experience with UNICEF/UN is an asset
• Fluency in English both written and verbal is essential
• Knowledge of Russian language is an asset

9. Application requirements

Applicants should apply online with completion/submit ion of the below items:

- Duly completed online profile or fully completed P11 form.

- Proposed methodology to run the systematic review (max. 700 words)

- Fully completed online questionnaire

- Daily fee and a lump sum fee in USD

Applications which do not have mentioned above documents will not be considered further. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

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 also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles.

Remarks:

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.

Advertised: W. Europe Standard Time
Applications close: W. Europe Standard Time

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