Public health professionals

We need experienced public health professionals to help improve the health of some of the poorest communities in the world.

Roles generally range from one to two years, but we have occasional short term roles for six months. You’ll have a public health qualification, with or without a clinical background, and at least three years’ relevant experience (five years for short-term roles).

What you’ll be doing

Your responsibilities will depend upon the particular placement. You could be working to train colleagues in epidemiological research, developing behavioural-change communications strategies or improving the management of preventative health services.

  • Example role

Please note this is just an example placement to illustrate the kind of roles that may come up in your skill area. To view our live roles, click ‘Get started’ below.

Public health or primary care manager

In 2004, Malawi's health system was described as 'dangerously close to collapse'. The Malawian Ministry of Health embarked on a six-year plan to revive it, with funds from the UK Department for International Development. Infrastructure is being improved, more health professionals are being trained and retained. VSO volunteers have supported Malawian colleagues to make the plan a reality, but many challenges remain. Now Rumphi District Health Management team have asked for help to address some of the most challenging health needs in Malawi.

As a public health manager, you'll improve the delivery of essential services at community level. You'll support greater coordination and better management of first-level care and public health initiatives. Improving data management and reporting, you’ll ensure health needs can be understood and acted on, and progress measured. Mentoring and training Malawian colleagues and community level staff, your supervision and guidance will help build the confidence and capabilities of those you work with.

What you'll be doing

  • Supporting the planning and management of primary health care activities in the district
  • Contributing to developing the primary health care strategy for Rumphi district
  • Coordinating vertical, government and non-governmental organisations’ primary health interventions and activities
  • Strengthening health management information systems, standardising data collection, developing reporting
  • Training colleagues in data management
  • On the job training, facilitating learning, and staff development

What you'll need

You’ll be an experienced primary care or public health practitioner with expertise in planning, managing, and developing services and interventions. Experience of health management information systems is important, as is the willingness to spend time working at grass roots level in rural areas. Previous experience of training or developing others would be an advantage.

You’ll work as part of a team of volunteers within the health service in Rumphi District, with two other volunteers also directly working to strengthen primary health care. As with all VSO placements, you’ll need to be flexible, patient and creative to work effectively with limited resources.

And the rest...

The name Malawi means ‘reflected light of bright haze’, a most apt description of this country whose area is one fifth covered by water. Besides the magnificent Lake, Malawi has five National Parks, beautiful scenery and year round sunshine. You’ll be based in Rumphi, a lovely small town surrounded by hills, close to the Nyika National park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife reserve. Rumphi’s small supermarkets and restaurants can be supplemented by the well-stocked supermarkets and shops of nearby Mzuzu. You’ll live in a small house with running water and electricity.

We’ll ask you to commit to 24 months to make a sustainable impact in Rumphi. In return, we’ll give you comprehensive financial, personal and professional support. We'll provide you with extensive training before your placement, living allowance, return flights, accommodation, insurance and more.

Next steps

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Sierra Leone has one health worker for every 5260 people, compared to the UK where there is one health worker for every 77 people. The effects of the dramatic shortfall in doctors, nurses and midwives are self-evident. In Sierra Leone, one in five children doesn’t reach their fifth birthday. Through VSO’s drive to help develop the country’s health services, volunteers like paediatrician Dr Shona Johnston are sharing life-saving skills with Sierra Leonean medical students. Foday Emmanuel Morovia is learning emergency procedures from Shona at Freetown Hospital.



Can I fill in the application form in a language other than English?

No. Please make sure you fill in the application form in English.