How can you make a difference?
UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) is seeking an individual consultant to provide technical assistance to selected countries in the region to generate evidence and develop strategies and programmes to address child overweight and improve nutrition of primary school age children and adolescents, as well as contribute to regional knowledge products, resources and tools.
In its Strategic Plan 2018-2021, UNICEF has committed to address overweight among all children 0-18 and to support strategies to improve nutrition of primary school-age children and adolescents. These are relatively new areas for UNICEF and overarching guidance is currently under development by the Nutrition section in HQ, as well as some joint tools with WHO. In EAPR, several countries have already begun to develop certain components, and in the 2018 regional management team meeting of country representatives, commitment was made to advance the child overweight agenda in at least 5 countries in the region (China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines).
In the East Asia and Pacific Region (EAPR), it is estimated that close to 9 million children under 5 are overweight – almost quarter of the global total and the single largest regional burden. Almost 90% of overweight children in the region live in just three countries: China, Indonesia and the Philippines. Thailand, Malaysia, Mongolia and the Pacific island countries also have significant child overweight burdens and prevalence. Most of these countries also have persisting high burdens of undernutrition – stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies.
In terms of children aged over 5 years, a major recent global analysis showed that mean BMI in children aged 5-19 had increased significantly in South East Asia. The analysis found the highest rates of overweight and obesity in the Pacific Island countries. National data on adolescent nutritional status in the region is scarce, with most countries lacking national data for the whole reference population of adolescents aged 10-19, never mind the entire school-age population from 5-19. Modelled data exists from this global analysis for the 5-19 age group, which shows high prevalence – between 22-32% – in PNG, China, Malaysia and Thailand, and all countries in the region with modelled data above 10%. In total, over 80 million school age children are estimated to be overweight in the region, the vast majority in China.
On the other hand, several countries still have high rates of undernutrition among adolescents. The highest rate of underweight (low body mass index – BMI) for girls aged 15-19 is in Timor-Leste at (40 per cent), Cambodia (28 per cent), while an Indonesia sub-national study recorded a striking double burden of malnutrition, with 11% of adolescents aged 13-15 years having low BMI while the same proportion of adolescents were overweight or obese. Anaemia is common among adolescents with rates close to 50% among 15-19 year olds in some countries. Adolescent mothers are more likely to have babies with poor fetal growth, which is a significant contributor to poor child nutrition outcomes.
Some of these country offices in EAPRO with a large double burden have begun investigating this double burden through undertaking landscape analyses of the situation, policies and programmes, and a few have initiated selected interventions, mainly with primary school age children and adolescents. But many have not yet undertaken full landscape analyses, nor studies on the obesogenic environment, including marketing, retail and school studies, analyses of fiscal and regulatory frameworks and specific household studies on consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages; and no country has so far designed and planned the type of comprehensive approach to addressing child overweight which the global and regional strategies recommend.
All countries require technical assistance to advance their overweight programmes. At the regional level, resources and tools for studies, analyses, advocacy, strategic design and planning will be needed.
EAPRO has already developed a toolkit for improving nutrition of school age children and adolescents, which includes overweight prevention, and is in process of designing various components of an assessment of the commercial determinants of child diets in the region. In addition, EAPRO has successfully advocated with ASEAN to develop a series of ASEAN guidance and standards related to nutrition, which various member states have volunteered to develop and EAPRO has committed to support; this work has yet to commence.
 Source: NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC), Worldwide trends in body-mass index, underweight, overweight, and obesity from 1975 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 2416 population-based measurement studies in 128·9 million children, adolescents, and adults, Lancet 2017,390:2627-2542 1: WHO, 2016. Modeled estimates.
Work Assignment, Work Schedule and Deliverables, please see information in attachment:
Estimated Duration of Contract: 11.5 months, starting 1 May 2019.
Official Travel: The consultant is expected to work at the UNICEF East Asia Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand. The consultant may also be required to travel in the region to perform the assigned tasks upon discussion and agreement with supervisor.
Qualifications or Specialized Knowledge/Experience Required:
- Postgraduate Degree (at least Master’s Degree) in public health or nutrition.
- At least eight (8) years’ experience with proven record of accomplishment and exposure dealing with nutrition programmes, especially on overweight and nutrition of school-age children and adolescents at the policy, evidence, advocacy, and programme levels.
- Experience of knowledge of legislative measures on overweight and NCDs like fiscal measures, marketing restrictions and labelling.
- Experience of nutrition or health related research and analysis, including formative research.
- Demonstrated competency in technical (including peer-reviewed articles) and advocacy writing, reviewing, editing, and production/publication.
- Experience of nutrition counseling and communication and training.
- Sound interpersonal skills, including experience in cross-cultural environment and international settings. Demonstrated ability to motivate people, influence stakeholders and work effectively with people at all levels of the organisation and across multiple organisations and commitment to collaborative work practices.
- Demonstrated sound and wide-ranging oral communication and writing skills in English.
- Relevant experience in the Southeast Asia region is an asset.
- Competency in computer skills with sound knowledge of Microsoft Office, ideally data software (STATA or SPSS).
- Proven ability for accuracy under pressure and adherence to deadlines.
- Demonstrated ability to work independently, take initiative and innovate.
Interested candidates are requested to submit CV or P-11, full contact information of minimum 2 references, availability, and proposed monthly professional fee and all-inclusive travel cost and other incidentals to/from Bangkok in USD by 1 April 2019. Please note the air tickets under UNICEF contract shall be re-routable, refundable type (economy class and most direct route). The consultant will be responsible for own travel insurance, visa fee and terminal expenses.
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Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.