WHO, UNV programme launch second phase of Africa Women Health Champions initiative

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Brazzaville — The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme today launched the second phase of the Africa Women Health Champions (AWHC) initiative to recruit young African women professionals to help drive the region’s health agenda and objectives. 

Following the successful implementation of the first phase, the AWHC initiative continues its mission of placing young African women professionals aged between 22 and 35 years as UN Volunteer health champions across WHO Country Offices in Africa. Through the initiative, WHO-AFRO and UNV committed to improving health for people on the continent, expanding opportunities for African public health professionals and nurturing the next generation of women health leaders in Africa, while contributing to gender parity for WHO workforce.

“Based on the success of the first phase, it is with pleasure that I announce the launch of the second phase starting today. With the partnership of the UNV programme, and the support of all the country offices, we aim to recruit more young women who are determined to contribute to the continent’s development in the health sector as UN Volunteers,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

The African Women Health Champions initiative has been a resounding success, with 120 women health champions deployed in 38 countries, representing 36 nationalities, and from more than 25 professional fields. The health champions contributed to response efforts by WHO to COVID-19 pandemic, Ebola epidemic, cholera outbreak and other health emergencies in the region. Professional areas of deployments included public health, emergency health surveillance, food security, biomedical engineering and laboratory technology among others.

“There is still much to do to achieve better health for everyone on the continent. Today, WHO and UNV are starting the second phase of the initiative. With more scale and new ambition. With focus on diversity. With outreach to underrepresented countries,” said Mr Toily Kurbanov, the Executive Coordinator of the UN Volunteers Programme.

The second phase of the AWHC initiative will run for 24 months, offering young professionals from the African continent exciting career opportunities to engage in public health initiatives in priority result areas for WHO. The health champions will be placed as national and international UN Volunteers in WHO country offices and at WHO Africa Regional Office. The second phase of the initiative will focus more on expanding health career development opportunities, increasing diversity and engagement of underrepresented countries.

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