Vacancy: Unit Chief, Mental Health and Substance Use

Grade: P5

Contractual Arrangement: Fixed-term appointment

Contract duration: Two years, first year probationary period.


Job Posting

: Jun 24, 2019, 2:28:44 PM

Closing Date

: Jul 15, 2019, 9:59:00 PM

Primary Location

: United States-Washington, D.C.


: Non communicable Diseases and Mental Health


: Full-time

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please note that the deadline for receipt of applications indicated above reflects your personal device’s system settings.



This requisition is for employment at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO)

The Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health (NMH) Department promotes, coordinates, and implements technical cooperation activities, directed at the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases and related risk factors, mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders, disabilities, violence, unintentional injuries, promotion of optimal nutrition and road safety, that are evidence-based and appropriate for the political and sociocultural context in which they are implemented. It raises political and public awareness and understanding of the burden of the most common noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mental disorders, related risk factors and conditions and leads multi-sector and multi-stakeholder strategic and collaborative efforts aimed at strengthening Member States’ capacity to promote and protect health through public policies, programs, and services. This will reduce risks and disease burden and contribute to improving the physical, mental, and social well-being of the population.


Under the general supervision of the Assistant Director (AD), and the direct supervision of the Director, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health (NMH), the incumbent is responsible for, but not necessarily limited to, the following assigned duties:

  1. Provide technical, policy and strategic advice and programmatic direction for the development of technical cooperation strategies at the regional and sub regional levels in mental health, alcohol and substance use, neurological disorders, disability and rehabilitation, to strengthen the capacity of Member States to develop policies and plans that contribute to the improvement and reorganization of their mental health related services;
  2. Advise and lead the implementation of PAHO’s Plans of Action on Mental Health, Alcohol, Substance Use, Disability and Rehabilitation, and Dementia – the latter in collaboration with PAHO’s program on Ageing; lead the work of the Mental Health and Substance Use Unit in planning, implementing, monitoring and resourcing work plans, consistent with country needs and the Organization’s overall Strategic Plan;
  3. Plan and guide the development, implementation and monitoring of the Organization’s mandates and policies related to protecting and promoting the human rights of people with mental health conditions against human rights violations and gender-based discrimination, in coordination with internal offices and other partners, and including the Gender Equality Policy and its plan of action;
  4. Develop and strengthen partnerships with United Nations (UN) agencies, collaborating centers, donors and civil society organizations to advance initiatives aimed at reducing the burden of mental health, neurological and substance use conditions;
  5. Coordinate efforts, initiatives and resources within the Unit and interprogrammatically to ensure quality, timely and effective technical cooperation at the regional level, in order to develop, strengthen and sustain public policies, strategies, interventions and programs that guarantee gender and ethnic equality in mental health;
  6. Provide technical advice and guide the development and dissemination of best practices on the management of mental health, alcohol and substance use, neurological disorders, disability and rehabilitation within the Organization, including at the country level; as well as other knowledge management and communication products;
  7. Coordinate the preparation of project profiles and proposals to mobilize resources within the programmatic approach for the Unit, and stimulate the mobilization of national and international resources to support country efforts in these areas;
  8. Coordinate the collection, analysis and dissemination of technical and scientific knowledge related to the above-mentioned conditions and their related impact on health throughout the Organization and at country level;
  9. Utilize information (epidemiological and surveillance data) to assess the impact of interventions and to set programmatic priorities for the Organization; promote sharing of country experiences, lessons learned and best practices;
  10. Identify, promote, establish, maintain, and coordinate liaison across the Organization, within WHO, with other United Nations organizations or with other partners, in order to maximize programmatic integration, efficiency and effectiveness;
  11. Provide authoritative technical, managerial and policy advice to staff assigned to the Unit, Sub-regional and Regional Advisors located in the countries; review reports submitted by staff and provide constructive feedback;
  12. Develop, define and establish the objectives, strategy, plan and budget of the Unit; ensure an Organization-wide approach and strategies and objectives that are aligned with the Organization’s mission, vision, values, policies, strategies, business needs and priorities, in order to ensure continuing operations and maximize results. Ensure that the results are aligned with the Unit’s biennial and multi-year plans, including monitoring of activities, adjustments to any deviations, such as redefined objectives or strategies;
  13. Formulate and recommend policies, plans, strategies, and budgets, in support of the Organization’s mandates related to the work of the Unit; develop and establish guidelines, norms, practices and procedures to improve the Unit’s effectiveness and efficiency; report to Governing Bodies, through executive’s presentations and reports, on the status or results of the Unit’s activities;
  14. Administer, allocate and monitor the Unit’s financial, logistical and staff resources; prepare, and justify the Unit’s program and budget proposals; plan and organize the formulation, development, implementation and control of systems to monitor performance in accordance with the results-based management approach;
  15. Provide leadership, guidance and monitoring of supervised staff by setting clear work objectives, ensuring timely and effective use of performance reviews and feedback mechanisms, engaging in regular communications, and solving interpersonal or technical conflicts; establish and support a learning environment, to include staff development in the Organization’s fundamentals, managerial competencies and technical expertise;
  16. Promote a culture of ethical behavior and integrity in accordance with the Organization’s Code of Ethical Principles and Conduct in order to ensure a culture of respect, responsibility, accountability, and compliance;
  17. Collaborate in the Organization’s response to emergency situations; provide technical expertise in order to facilitate timely response;
  18. Perform other related duties, as assigned.


Education :

Essential: A university degree in a health or social science and a master’s degree in psychiatry, neurology, substance use, psychology or a related subject.

Desirable: Training in public health, epidemiology or management would be an asset.

In the event that your candidature is retained for an interview, you will be required to provide, in advance, a scanned copy of the degree(s)/diploma(s)/certificate(s) required for this position. WHO, only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED), a list updated by the International Association of Universities (IAU) / United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list can be accessed through the link: PAHO will also use the databases of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and College Navigator, found on the website of the National Centre for Educational Statistics, to support the validation process.

Experience :

Essential: Thirteen years of combined national and international progressively responsible experience in mental health, brain and substance use disorders. Demonstrated experience in developing and implementing public health policies and programs in the areas of mental health, brain and substance use disorders.


PAHO Competencies:

  • Intrainstitutional Action: Displays, through leadership and decisions, understanding of the political systems and underlying drivers. Plans and evaluates both unit and individual results to achieve the PAHO’s mission. Requires that projects be grounded in scientific evidence and that they be consistent with PAHO’s vision, mission and values, and appropriate for the setting in which they will be carried out. Demonstrates a full commitment to the mission and values of the Organization by aligning the area of work with the strategic direction of the Organization. Behaves consistently in accordance with the Code of Ethics of the Organization.
  • Accountability: Develops a culture that utilizes accountability strategies at all levels and activities, processes, and functions in one’s area. Oversees the development and required dissemination of appropriate reports on the monitoring of interventions in terms of partial and final results, as well as all the activities of one’s area.
  • Devising the budget for interventions and cost optimization: Achieves valuable results from the organizational strategies. Makes optimal use of the available resources. Advocates ethical behavior and follows organizational guidelines when managing resources, helping to prevent and eventually resolving conflicts of interest.
  • Thinking, planning and the strategic management of technical cooperation interventions: Evaluates the ideas for interventions in terms of their potential for change and transformation before deciding to execute them. Follows the Organization’s strategy in executing technical cooperation interventions in order to generate expected results.
  • Analysis, Synthesis, and Forecasting: Leads one’s area toward a culture of decision-making that is based upon objective analysis of situational evidence and application of previously acquired knowledge. Provides oversight in the verification process that targets how area of work takes action in situations that will require future intervention, based on ongoing analysis. Presents solutions evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Is capable of anticipating the implications of an analyzed situation for two years or more.
  • Teamwork: Develops a high performing team in one’s operational area and also encourages teamwork across the Organization. Establishes and models the standard for teams and teamwork. Provides significant contributions when participating in internal and external work teams. Initiates and leads mutually beneficial productive interpersonal relationships based on trust, both inside and outside the Organization.
  • Service Orientation: Creates, maintains and encourages a client orientated culture. Seeks information about the real, underlying needs of the client, beyond those expressed initially, and matches these to available (or customized) products or services. Looks for long-term relationships with the client.
  • External Action: Develops and maintains mutually beneficial working productive partnerships. In the area under one’s charge, monitors all activities, using transparency in the execution of all processes. Verifies that the conditions and deadlines set for turning in the product are met and can objectively report on the results. Leverages external actors to actors to accomplish strategic goals.
  • Resource Mobilization: Establishment of an internal culture that supports the Organization’s strategic direction program of work and the organizational results to enable effective resource mobilization. Supports and makes all efforts to increase the level of resources that are considered necessary for operations. Is capable of negotiating with different types of organizations. Uses the financial and non-financial resources with objectivity. Is able to achieve the goals and results with the resources they have.

Technical Expertise:

  • Technical: Extensive progressive expertise at a senior decision-making level in providing technical cooperation in projects and activities that address the development and implementation of national and local policies that promote mental health conditions in multiple countries, in particular in managing complex health programs/health systems at both national and international levels. Wide and varied knowledge of public health problems and health management processes, including monitoring and performance assessment in the health or social sector, and disciplines related to strategic planning.
  • Managerial: Extensive expertise in senior, progressively responsible positions in the management of a large public or private administration with administrative and technical matters requiring sensitive negotiations and high-level interventions. Demonstrated ability to provide professional leadership to strategic, organizational, managerial and analytic work in health; requiring resourcefulness, initiative, highly developed judgment and interpersonal skills to deal with difficult situations and sensitive issues, in order to establish and maintain effective working relations with people of different professional levels, discipline, nationalities, and cultural background.
  • Administrative: Skills in the creation and integration of administrative procedures for the delivery of highest quality results from the Team as well as in resource mobilization (including fundraising and partner collaboration), and financial management for the delivery of expected results.


Very good knowledge of English or Spanish with a working knowledge of the other language. Knowledge of French and/or Portuguese would be an asset.

IT Skills:

Demonstrated ability to effectively use a computer and software programs such as Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint and Outlook. Other IT skills and knowledge of other software programs such as Visio and Project would be an asset.


Annual Salary : (Net of taxes)

US$ 85,543.00

Post Adjustment : 47.1% of the above figure. This percentage is to be considered as indicative since variations may occur each month either upwards or downwards due to currency exchange rate fluctuations or inflation.


Only candidates under serious consideration will be contacted. A written test may be used as a form of screening. Any appointment/extension of appointment is subject to PAHO Staff Regulations, Staff Rules and e-Manual. For information on PAHO please visit: PAHO/WHO is committed to workforce diversity.

PAHO/WHO has a smoke-free environment and does not recruit smokers or users of any form of tobacco. PAHO/WHO offers an attractive compensation package including an annual net salary and post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station and exchange rates (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance). Other benefits include: 30 days annual leave, dependency benefits, pension plan and health insurance scheme. Benefits for internationally recruited staff may include home leave, travel and removal expenses on appointment and separation, education grant for dependent children, assignment grant and rental subsidy. Candidates appointed to an international post with PAHO are subject to mobility and may be assigned to any activity or duty station of the Organization throughout the world. All applicants are required to complete an on-line profile to be considered for this post. Candidates will be contacted only if they are under serious consideration. A written test and/or interview will be held for this post. The post description is the official documentation for organization purposes.