Download the complete Terms of Reference here

Title: mHealth Deployment Specialist
Section/Unit: Office of Innovation
Duration: 7 months (with an optional extension up to maximum 11.5 months based on performance, need and availability of funding)
Duty Station:  Flexible; must have ability to travel frequently
Level: Individual contract (Equivalent to P3 / NO-C)

BACKGROUND

UNICEF Innovation is currently planning the scale up of several mobile driven tools supporting core UNICEF programmes such as in health, education,and youth engagement. Current development of the open-source technologies supporting UNICEF’s programmes require tools and components designed to accelerate replication by other country offices.

Evidence shows that digital health (eHealth), including strategies that leverage mobile technologies such as Short Message Service (SMS), can improve routine service delivery in terms of timely data collection and quality case management. Many of these eHealth systems show great potential in accelerating progress towards improving health service delivery. For example, in Uganda a nationally scaled RapidSMS based solution called mTrac supported by UNICEF and WHO has allowed the government to track antimalarial medicines, contributing to a reduction in stock-outs from 79% in 2011 to 15.4% by 2014. However, current experience to date has been based primarily on pilot projects with few evaluations. As a result, large-scale implementation or integration of eHealth innovations within national government health programs is still limited.  Therefore, there is an absence of adequate evidence about what works and knowledge of how to scale interventions that have demonstrated efficacy; and increasing calls for an evidence-based ‘systems approach’ to integrating these strategies into existing health systems.

One of the biggest challenges facing government and health development partners is the effort and cost required to deploy even the most basic eHealth system. While there are a number of eHealth tools that are hosted in the cloud or run off local computers, emerging government policies and laws often require health data to be hosted at in-country data centres. This necessitates sending in expensive foreign consultants, and hiring and training numerous technical staff to manage at great cost. Furthermore, establishing reverse-billed short codes – often a requirement for many mobile eHealth applications – can take years of negotiation with Mobile Network Operators in some countries. Most investments in the eHealth space still do not take into account emerging best practices on enterprise level health information system architecture, including those coming from communities such as OpenHIE.

To address this, UNICEF has developed RapidPro. RapidPro is designed for programmatic experts–not technologists–to be able to easily create SMS-based workflows to monitor programmes, track activities, or engage with beneficiaries. The platform includes tools for quick graphing and data analysis, as well as the ability to export data directly to Excel for further analysis. It retains and expands upon the functionalities of RapidSMS, which powers U-Report, mTrac, Mother Reminder, Project Mwana, and the Rwanda’s RapidSMS 1,000 Days, but is easy to setup and manage without technical expertise. In addition, local government cloud hosting arrangements, service, and contracts with Mobile Network Operators will be taken care of by the UNICEF Global Innovation Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. UNICEF programmes in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are planning to either upgrade their current RapidSMS systems or implement new programmes on top of the RapidPro platform. All other UNICEF programmes are being encouraged to adopt RapidPro as the platform of choice for running SMS based mobile programmes.

UNICEF is currently exploring opportunities to support alignment of a number of key eHealth tools – including DHIS2 – through the promotion and adoption of emerging best practices around health systems enterprise level architecture and Application Protocol Interfaces (API’s), and extend the functionality of a core set of eHealth tools that are already serving as the foundation for many national Health Information Systems through RapidPro; increasing the effectiveness of these tools exponentially and creating a platform for expanding specific interventions and programmes.

A broader RapidPro supported “eHealth Suite of Tools” is under development. The suite will update and extend the reach of already UNICEF supported RapidSMS applications including immunizations and maternal reminders, while adding new modules including a community counseling hotline application. This includes the community counseling hotline module (based off of the Zambia U-report HIV/AIDS counseling service) with an emphasis on breastfeeding and maternal, newborn, and child health counseling. The mother reminder application which will be built off of Project Mwana and the Uganda mother reminder systems, which strengthens the link between the community (through CHWs) and the formal health system (facilities).

PURPOSE OF THE APPOINTMENT

In the initial phase of work (2-3 months with periodic support throughout duration of contract), this role will focus heavily on providing support to core countries (esp. Congo-Brazzaville, Indonesia, Senegal, and Zambia) in implementing and documenting immunization innovation initiatives, including extended in-country support. This could include supporting design and user-needs research, developing training materials and documentation, working to ensure scalability and interoperability with national HMIS, and assessing the contribution of the innovation initiatives to achieving immunization program objectives (e.g., increased coverage with equity; reduced “drop outs”). Since the program needs and context are different in the two focus countries, it could be that this immunization innovation initiative results in more than one “product” or platform.

The mHealth Deployment Specialist would serve as the focal point on UNICEF Innovation’s digital health deployment activities – particularly around the 1000 Days suite of tools – under the supervision of the Global Deployment Lead. The mHealth Deployment Specialist will work directly between country offices and UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre.

The general objective of this consultancy is to provide in-depth support to the design and implementation of mHealth innovations (focused on immunization) in Congo-Brazzaville, Indonesia, Senegal, and Zambia and, in turn, overall mhealth deployment coordination and “on the ground” support to the UNICEF Global Innovation Centre the deployment of mHealth applications in UNICEF’s country offices. This candidate needs to gather large amount of information from various sources and synthesize it into concrete plans for how the Global Innovation Centre should develop and enhance existing tools according to demand from UNICEF country office.

Following completion of the key tasks identified above, the role will shift focus to remote and in-country support to the design and deployment of projects in these core countries, as well as the documentation of the mHealth models and deployment experience, this role will expand to the broader coordination of RapidPro deployments focused on Health, Nutrition, and HIV/AIDS with a subsequent emphasis to build strategies around cross-country post-deployment support.

It will require an ability to understand complex, abstract concepts, and ability to think creatively about best fitting technology for each project and build the end product. It will take an understanding of currently available technology and trends to develop effective solutions for the Health sector. It also requires an extensive background and presence in the mHealth/eHealth communities.

MAIN ACTIVITIES

  • Providing direct support as needed to priority country offices regarding the deployment and documentation of an immunization innovation initiative and contributing to the 1000 Days suite of tools, including in-country support
  • Working with UNICEF Innovation, Regional offices and country offices to advocate for a global mHealth approach based on GreenTree principles and other existing best practices in the field. This approach will be formulated by the mHealth Program Manager from the the Global Innovation Centre.
  • Working with mHealth Program Manager and Global Deployment Lead on tailoring UNICEF Innovation’s deployment toolkit for mHealth.
  • Providing direct support to country offices in developing best practice strategies on using real time information tools in Health.
  • Executing the product deployment of immunization, mother reminders, mTrac, and PMTCT lab results delivery modules of the 1000 Days suite of tools.
  • Work with the UNICEF Health team to integrate into the broader strategy, and provide input to fundraising efforts (draft language and develop budgets where there are gaps in financing from a country level)
  • Supporting coordination of the development of training materials and documentation for RapidPro suite of mHealth services in target countries;
  • Participating in relevant standards/interoperability communities, working with existing open-source mHealth platforms (MoTECH, CommCare, DHIS2, OpenMRS, iHRIS etc) to ensure that any country implementation meets interoperability requirements.
  • Assessing further support needs required by countries to rollout RapidPro mHealth services and integration.

QUALIFICATIONS AND EDUCATION

  • Advanced degree in a relevant field or equivalent related practical experience.
  • At least 5 years of professional experience.
  • Proven experience in the mHealth field – especially on deployment of mHealth solutions.
  • Significant experience with project management with an ability to translate complex ideas from various fields into unified, clear guidance is a must.

Additional Experience and Knowledge:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Experience working in, designing, or deploying solutions in/for low-resource settings
  • Extensive experience working with the mHealth/eHealth community
  • Experience writing contracts and memo-lengthed to long form documents for organizations. Academic documentation experience a plus.
  • Knowledge and experience with DHIS2, OpenMRS, iHRIS, OpenHIE, MoTECH, CommCare, etc
  • Familiarity with open-source technology
  • Experience with processing large amount of information and synthesizing it
  • Ability to work in a team and in a diverse work environment.
  • Knowledge of United Nations – particularly UNICEF – processes and work streams

Languages:

Fluency in English and French.

Download the complete Terms of Reference here

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