National consultant - Technical support to Ministry of Health in response for COVID-19 in North Macedonia
Job no: 536294
Contract type: Consultancy
Location: Macedonia, TFYR
Categories: Communication for Development (C4D), Health, Programme Management
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.
For every child, [insert tagline]
UNICEF Skopje is seeking a National Consultant who will need to provide technical support to the Ministry of Health in response to Covid-19 in the Republic of North Macedonia
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in late February 2020, the Government of North Macedonia has continually initiated a set of measures aimed at preventing the transmission of the disease and reducing the risks associate with the disease in the country. Like in many countries these have included strengthening existing health systems, procuring additional medical supplies and equipment, introducing travel restrictions, lockdowns and curfews and school closures. While these tight early reductions produced results, as is the case throughout Europe, the country is currently experiencing a higher level of Covid-19 infections than in the spring with the reproduction over 1.
In response to COVID-19, the Ministry of Health set up a special crisis body to follow developments and propose recommendations to the Government. This body works in cooperation with the MoH Communicable Disease Commission, the Steering Committee of the Crisis Management Centre and the Institute for Public Health in monitoring the situation and proposing measures and recommendations to the Government. The ultimate executive decisioning body remains the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia. The UN system is represented through the WHO which plays an active role in the crisis body.
To support the Government, UNICEF has developed and is implementing COVID-19 response plan, focusing on the immediate measures to ensure preparedness and/or response actions. The plan is aligned with the WHO-led Country COVID-19 Comprehensive Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP) and is considering lessons learned from similar responses in the past, based on established inter-agency partnerships, collaboration with the national Government and unhindered access and where possible depending on securing the sustained presence by partners. The response strategy builds on and expands the significant investments which have been made over the past years in supporting national health and social systems, previous outbreaks or health response, and draw on strong risk communication networks, especially for the most vulnerable communities.
One of the fundamental strategies to reduce the spread of infection is risk communication and community engagement - by providing clear accurate information, shaping attitudes and behaviors including encouraging the use of masks, social distancing, increased personal and hand hygiene and promoting other appropriate protective measures. These non-pharmaceutical measures aimed at breaking the spread of infection signify the importance of appropriate risk communication and community engagement as a critical strategy in the response.
Once a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, it will be a critical tool for putting an end to this global pandemic. Globally, partners are working hard to accelerate development and manufacturing of a safe and effective vaccine and North Macedonia is among countries who have signed up to be part of the global COVAX facility. It is expected that in the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccines deployment, there will not be enough doses for widespread use, however estimates suggest that there will be adequate supply to protect health and social care workers, which will be critical for maintaining essential services. These efforts need to be supported by effective communication and engagement activities. Furthermore, even when a vaccine becomes available additional communication will be required to maintain practices of testing; treatment; and to continue physical distancing, handwashing and wearing masks to control the pandemic.
While the country continues to promote mandatory use of masks, general and hand hygiene, physical distancing, importance of contact tracing, self-isolation and other measures, ensuring the public adhere to these measures is challenged by COVID-19 messaging fatigue, digital fatigue, growing polarization and distrust; coupled with a false perception of reduced risk that comes with relaxing lockdown measures. Pandemic fatigue is an expected and natural response to a prolonged public health crisis – not least because the severity and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic have called for the implementation of invasive measures with unprecedented impacts on the daily lives of everyone, including those who have not been directly affected by the virus itself. The introduction of the vaccine will also require well-thought out communication and community engagement action plan to ensure effective uptake as well as renewed communication and community engagement efforts to address the behavioral barriers to practicing protective measures. Recognizing these challenges, UNICEF has agreed to further ramp up support to the country’s risk communication and community engagement efforts through engaging a National RCCE (Risk Communication and Community Engagement) Consultant who will work together with UNICEF and partners to develop plans and interventions as part of the response.
How can you make a difference?
The purpose of this consultancy is to strengthen communication and community engagement response, further develop the capacity of national authorities during the second wave of the outbreak, provide technical assistance and strategic guidance to UNICEF and partners including the Ministry of Health public relations and communication teams response measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Activities and Tasks
The consultant will contribute to work to carry out the following tasks:
- Support national authorities in their RCCE coordination and management including but not limited to support for establishing a national COVID-19 risk communication team, support development/finalization of the overall team’s Terms of References (TOR), defining roles and responsibilities; and support the design and implementation of capacity building and training of national counterparts, especially the members of the risk communication team (including development of training programme, agenda and material) focusing on incorporating behavioral insights in risk communication and community engagement efforts;
- Support UNICEF and national authorities in conducting rapid assessment of current and emerging risks, as well as to understand the target audiences, their attitudes, beliefs, and practices; planning and response, and monitoring public sentiment and effectiveness of the communication activities;
- Support UNICEF and national authorities in the development of RCCE strategies, costed plans of action and other relevant documents such as funding proposals, monitoring reports etc.; including mapping target groups and preferred communication tools/channels, key influencers and community leaders that are able to influence attitudes and beliefs and strategies using different digital platforms, real time communication and other safe community engagement methods that reinforce desired behaviors but also respond to increasing COVID-19 digital fatigue;
- Provide technical support to development of targeted risk communication and preventive messages, innovative IEC materials and videos on COVID-19, that respond to the prevailing attitudes and beliefs and public sentiment that prevent audiences from practicing measures;
- Ensure that the messaging system is of high quality – prepare and pre-test messages through the participatory process, specifically targeting key stakeholders and at-risk groups, control accuracy, correctness and effectiveness of the messages. All messages must instill calm and prevent panic among the public and most importantly break through attitudinal barriers;
- Plan the effective and timely dissemination of messages and materials through existing institutional settings, networks, traditional and social media, etc.;
- Support the national authorities to ensure effective communication coordination mechanism among relevant stakeholders - government departments, civil society organizations and UN agencies to synergize efforts, track, mitigate and respond to misinformation and share correct information and advice with the various target groups.
- Provide technical support to further develop strong partnerships with key stakeholders - community groups, leaders and other partners in the community and civil society for the promotion of key behaviors to stop transmission.
- Additionally, support an international consultant with translations and other logistic support and continue to provide technical assistance to national authorities, independently for an additional three months after the completion of the assignment of the international consultant.
Key Deliverables and Timeframe
The Consultant will be engaged for a total of 6 months, for the period: December 2020 until early June 2021. The consultant is expected to produce the deliverables listed below by the end of assignment.
- Risk communication team meets regularly and provides written reports to the Minister of Health;
- Training of national counterparts is completed; and additional on the job training provided to national counterparts completed;
- Draft National risk communication and Community Engagement plan developed
- Final National risk communication and Community Engagement plan reviewed and finalized
- Key preparedness and response risk communication messages finalized, materials are produced for different phases of the outbreak targeting different audience groups and are effectively disseminated;
- Relevant RCCE materials and activities in the final National risk communication and Community Engagement plan are implemented;
- Final report and debrief with the national counterparts
Management: The Contractor will be supervised by the UNICEF North Macedonia Deputy Representative and receive technical guidance from the Communication Specialist. The Contractor work in close collaboration with an international RCCE expert, both who will work under technical guidance of the relevant Ministry of Health senior management.
Organization: National individual consultancy is required for this consultancy. For the first three months of the consultancy, the national consultant will provide support to an international RCCE expert who will lead the development of RCCE plan, capacity development initiatives and provide technical support to national authorities during the implementation of the plan. The national individual consultant will continue to provide technical assistance, independently for an additional three months after the completion of the assignment of the international consultant. The consultancy assignment is an office-based assignment using flexible working arrangements.
Duration of the consultancy: six months commencing December 2020 on full time basis till June 2021, with a possibility to extend.
To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…
- University degree in one of the following areas: communication, behavior and social science, behavioral insights, Public health, epidemiology, or any related technical field;
- At least 5 (five) years of field experience in public health or risk communication and community engagement or related technical field;
- Demonstrated experience in managing disease outbreak response an asset;
- Previous experience in risk communication and community engagement strategy development;
- Previous experience in conducting trainings to build national capacities;
- Extensive experience in programme development, planning, implementation and monitoring, of communication plans;
- Previous work experience with UNICEF or WHO is an asset
- Excellent command of Macedonian and English; verbal and written. Knowledge of other local languages is an asset.
- Demonstrated coordination and leadership capacity;
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills;
- Ability to work under stress and tight timeline;
- Demonstrated tact and high sense of responsibility and discretion;
- Demonstrates integrity and high ethical standards;
- Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability.
All applicants will be screened against qualifications and requirements set above. Candidates fully meeting all the requirements will be further evaluated based on the criteria below.
1. Technical Criteria – max 70% of total evaluation – max 70 points (Education & Experience).
Only candidates who obtained at least 49 points from the technical part, will be qualified for considering for financial proposal evaluation.
2. Financial Criteria - 30 % of total evaluation – max. 30 points: Financial scores will be calculated using the formula [lowest offer / financial offer of the candidate x 30].
If needed, short listed candidates may be invited to an interview to further assess the criteria.
1. Upload the Motivation letter and most recent CV
2. Upload a financial offer as a separate document consisting of monthly gross fee and other costs if applicable. The financial offer should be in Macedonian Denar.
For every Child, you demonstrate…
UNICEF's values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.
View our competency framework at
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 be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.
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.
Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.
Advertised: Central European Standard Time
Deadline: Central European Standard Time