groups » Training and Career Development » Scientific Officer required in Dakar to study Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases

Position: Scientific Officer
Duty Station: Dakar
Contract Duration: 12 months (renewable depending on availability of funds)
In August 2014, a WHO consultation unanimously agreed that, given the exceptionally dramatic situation and lack of available vaccines and drugs, it was ethical to offer investigational interventions with yet unproven benefits and unknown side effects, though every effort should also be made to evaluate benefits and risks and share all data generated. Since then, and moving forward at a fast pace, a number of groups and consortia are preparing to get ready for either vaccine or drug trials in what will undoubtedly be very challenging and unprecedented circumstances.
While several of these initiatives have integrated individual scientists from the region into their advisory or decisional committees, there is so far no forum for the scientists, leaders and other stakeholders in the region to come together, discuss, and develop common positions on the many difficult medical, ethical and community-related questions these research efforts raise. Given the severity of the situation and the unprecedented nature of the challenges before us, there is a need for out-of-the-box thinking and finding new ways to address some of the questions raised in which the local and community perspectives are critical. To respond to this need, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Public Health Program of Open Society Foundations (OSF) convened a meeting of primarily West African opinion leaders, including those with pertinent scientific expertise (e.g. medical, ethics, social scientists etc.) in order to develop a joint strategy and action plan towards:

 Serving as a forum for reviewing the current evidence on Ebola virus disease (EVD) and the current epidemic, including available information on investigational drugs and vaccines, planned research and ethical concerns, and the wider context of response to future public health emergencies in the sub-region.

 Creating a core regional advocacy group that would represent a regional voice in international discussions and initiatives in response to the current EVD epidemic, in particular the research and clinical trials efforts as well as future policy directions involving strengthening public health and research infrastructure in the sub-region.

 Acting as a communication platform by developing a proactive and locally relevant awareness raising and communication strategy that informs and engages affected vulnerable communities in a manner that garners their buy-in and support and helps rebuild public trust.

The participants to the meeting came up with clear recommendations on what needs to be done regarding the upcoming clinical trials and the restructuring of health systems in the region in the long term. They suggested the creation of a task force to work on the issues they identified. The West African Task Force for the Control of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases (WATER) was established as a result of these recommendations.


WATER is a newly formed multidisciplinary group of experts that will promote and engage in activities aimed at addressing emerging and re-emerging infectious disease control in West Africa. The group will partner with communities, research institutions, and all the key stakeholders involved in the response to emerging and re-emerging disease threats by providing strategic advice and specific support including logistics like regional experts and supplies.

The objectives of WATER are:
1) To support the effective use of available health system resources in the prevention and control of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in West Africa.
2) To improve West African countries’ capabilities in terms of outbreak preparedness and response.
3) To establish sustainable community engagement in outbreak preparedness and response.
4) To improve the West African legal and regulatory framework for health research with focus on the decision making process on research on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
5) To meaningfully engage key decision makers at local, national, regional and international levels in relevant initiatives that can contribute to the control of emerging and re-emerging infectious disease in West Africa.
6) To develop a research capacity strengthening and knowledge management strategy in the prevention and control of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in West Africa.

Position Profile:

WATER seeks a Scientific Officer to be responsible its programmatic and organizational components. The Scientific Officer will be based in the OSIWA offices in Dakar.

1. General Responsibilities
The Scientific Officer is responsible for:
 directly assisting the core management group (CMG) of WATER to run the organization smoothly and efficiently
 ensuring that tasks are carried out smoothly within the area of responsibility assigned by the CMG
 organising and coordinating all work stages
 performing all daily duties in the assigned area of responsibility assigned by the CMG
 maintaining a helpful attitude to OSIWA’s staff/customers ensuring that the office creates a professional impression of international standards
 communicating efficiently with individuals, offices, and/or institutions with which WATER maintains regular contact
 liaising with the CMG to maintain and manage the calendar of the organization
 Updating and chasing delegated tasks to ensure progress towards meeting deadlines

2. Tasks
1. Research
The Scientific Officer:
 Compiles and maintains a detailed database of all multidisciplinary experts in West Africa with respect to the preparedness and response to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
 Compiles and maintains a detailed database of laboratory centres of excellence in West Africa
 Compiles and maintains a detailed database of regional publications and datasets with respect to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases
 Compiles and maintains a list of ongoing/planned clinical trials in West Africa and partners involved
 Conducts other research as assigned by the CMG

2. Communication
The Scientific Officer:
 Maintains and facilitates an online communication platform that will serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas and discussion between scientists, national disease control program managers, and other key stakeholders
 Identifies advocacy opportunities for WATER and supports the development of advocacy plan and messages

3. Grant management
The Scientific Officer:
 Searches for funding opportunities to enable WATER to implement its initiatives
 Manages all aspects of the grants awarded to WATER

3. Required qualifications, competences and experience

 Minimum of a Master in Public Health with compelling evidence of experience, exposure and professional training

Professional experience
 Significant professional experience in a comparable position
 Experience in conducting advocacy work

Other knowledge, additional competences
 good working knowledge of ITC technologies (related software, phone, fax, email, internet) and computer applications (e.g. MS Office)
 good internet search skills
 outstanding management skills
 outstanding communication skills
 confidential handling of information
 ability to communicate accurately and clearly both orally and in writing (English and French)
 strong work ethic and flexibility
 willingness to develop skills as required by the tasks to be performed as assigned by the CMG

Remuneration: Commensurate with experience

Start Date: March/April 2015

Application Instructions: send resume (in English), cover letter, brief writing sample and salary requirements, by cob February 25, 2014 to:
Please include job code in the subject line: Scientific Officer – WATER -


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