News article

GOARN Request for Assistance: Lassa fever outbreak response in Nigeria

Date: 11 February 2019
Country: Nigeria
WHO Region: Africa (AFR)
Classification: Restricted

Situation update

As of 3 February 2019, 731 suspected Lassa virus fever cases have been reported from

19 States in Nigeria, of which 275 were confirmed, 3 probable and 453 excluded. Since the onset of the 2019 outbreak, there have been 57 deaths in confirmed cases. The case fatality ratio for confirmed cases is 20.7%. Nine health care workers have been infected since the onset of the outbreak in four States, four of which were detected in week 5. There are currently 2080 contacts under active follow up.

Outbreak Response

The National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre(EOC) continues

to coordinate the response activities at all levels. A multi-sectoral, one-health, national rapid response team (NCDC, NFELTP, Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Federal Ministry of Environment) has been deployed to Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Plateau and Bauchi States.

Request for Additional Assistance

To immediately strengthen the response to the ongoing Lassa control activities, WHO is requesting support from GOARN partners to identify various types of English speaking experts for immediate deployment.

Positions include:

  • Senior Epidemiologist
  • Senior Infection, prevention and control expert
  • Risk communications expert

Senior Epidemiologist

During deployment, the duty station may change, and duties may be modified, based upon the technical needs of the Programme.

  1. Lead the development, consolidation and maintenance of a country-specific repository of information (at the highest geographic resolution possible) on core public health indicators (e.g. crude and under-five mortality rates, prevalence of malnutrition, vaccination coverage); updated population estimates (resident, displaced, refugees), standards indicators and values used by partners for monitoring needs and response; vulnerability mapping; nutrition, mortality and vaccination coverage survey reports; health needs assessment reports.
  2. Design, in cooperation with technical partners, surveillance guidelines, protocols, surveys and monitoring/surveillance systems for detection, verification and response to public health incidents at the national level; ensuring efficiency of data collection, correlation, analysis, interpretation, timely reporting and coordinate the work of a network of sub-regional monitors, as well as provide technical guidance to the epidemiologists assigned, as required.
  3. Conduct real-time analysis of outbreak intelligence data, with other team members, for epidemic forecasting and detection, guide team members on data quality improvement, use of data for monitoring of trends, ALERT and ACTION thresholds (triggers), as well as methodologies for performing data quality audit (DQA).
  4. Oversee data entry, data validation, analysis and reporting of assessments and surveys.  Synergize data received from multiple sources including health information systems, death registries, vertical reporting programmes, community Based Surveillance and IDSR.
  5. Coordinate the establishment and functionality of Rapid Response Teams (RRTs), early warning systems (including event based and indicator based surveillance) for epidemic and pandemic-prone diseases for early detection and response to public health events, as well as, Public Health Management Committee (PHEMC) for potential hazards like infectious diseases, zoonotic events, food safety events and chemical events as per the national guidance and standards.
  6. Contribute to the preparation of other WHO and health cluster communication products (situation reports, health cluster bulletins, donors alerts, and other ad-hoc reports).
  7. Represent WHO in coordination meeting with partners involved in epidemiology and monitoring.
  8. Develop appropriate training plans for building the core surveillance, alert and response national capacities in accordance with the requirement for IHR 2005. Oversee the capacity building of health management teams and health facility staff.
  9. Perform any other incident-specific related duties, as required by the functional supervisor.

Senior Infection, prevention and control

During deployment, the duty station may change, and duties may be modified, based upon the technical needs of the Programme.

  1. Lead the development of infection prevention and control (IPC) core components for preparedness, response and recovery of outbreaks and health emergencies.
  2. Provide technical guidance to national infection prevention and control IPC programme on preparedness and response to outbreaks and health emergencies.
  3. Provide technical guidance to the national IPC programme on reducing healthcare associated infection, ensuring that IPC priorities and activities are managed effectively in compliance with WHO IPC guidelines.
  4. Provide guidance and technical advice for the prevention of the spread of severe emerging infectious diseases through development, dissemination and evaluation of guidelines and implementation strategies.
  5. Ensure restoration of safe basic health services and implementation of the minimum IPC measures.
  6. Assess training needs, develop training materials and conduct and/or supervise IPC training for staff at district hospitals and health facilities according to the review of IPC measures.
  7. Review the IPC measures implemented in the affected areas and advise on prevention of healthcare associated infections in healthcare settings. Co-develop and outline the implementation of a national IPC strategy in regards to measures pertaining to enhancement of Standard Precautions.
  8. Report to MOH/WHO international incident management team on findings, and activities, and advise on effective and feasible IPC activities in areas affected by the incident.
  9. Perform any other related incident-specific duties, as required by the functional supervisor.

Risk communication expert

During deployment, the duty station may change, and duties may be modified, based upon the technical needs of the Programme.

  1. Act as risk communication focal point in the IM system during outbreaks and emergencies:
    • Oversee the development, elaboration and implementation of the risk communication plan as part of the health response operations.
    • With key stakeholders in the national authorities, UN agencies, nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, identify the top hazards for the country and develop relevant information, education and communication materials in languages and formats easily used by national stakeholders and the public.
    • Liaise closely with the HQ and regional counterparts for risk communication ensuring coherence of strategy, materials and messages. Ensure that technical material produced by the country office integrates risk communication principles and practice.
    • Monitor and proactively counter false rumours and misinformation; and address fears and concerns.
    • Work closely with the Community Engagement Officer to integrate findings from knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) surveys, focus group discussions and other feedback from community engagement activities into risk communication activities and products.
    • In collaboration with the Communication Officer, proactively brief and educate journalists and broadcasters.
    • Lead and maintain quality control for risk communication products such as public information; brochures, leaflets and posters; radio and TV scripts; guides for stakeholders for risk communication, and ensure their translation into local language and their adaptation for the local context.
    • Report regularly in risk communication activities and issues to the IM, respective RO and HQ counterparts.
    • Contribute to resource mobilization and donor communication in the area of risk communication.
  2. Develop and maintain standing risk communication capacity in the WHO Country Office:
    • With internal and expert input, and working in line with global and regional frameworks and strategies, develop a multi-hazard risk communication plan for the country office.
    • In close collaboration with the Community Engagement Officer and the Communications Officer, map and engage risk communication stakeholders; establish and sustain coordination mechanisms for emergency risk communication.
    • Map preferred channels of communication in the country with focus on vulnerable groups.
    • Organize risk communication trainings for WHO country staff.
    • Brief, guide and coordinate risk community surge capacity personnel that may be deployed to the country.
  3. Support national capacity building for emergency risk communication:
    • Work with resources from the global and regional levels to train and prepare country-level counterparts for emergency risk communication.
    • Support national authorities to convene stakeholders and co-develop a national risk communication strategy and plan.    
    • With HO and RO support, underpin the national assessment of risk communication capacity and/or oversee the running of simulation exercises to test and improve the national capacity.
    • Support national authorities to conduct lessons learnt exercises to further strengthen emergency risk communication.
  4. Perform any other related incident-specific duties, as required by the functional supervisor.


Description Essential requirements Desired
Education and training – First level university degree or equivalent. – Postgraduate degree in discipline, or equivalent in experience      
Experience – Demonstrated knowledge of area of expertise as related to Lassa fever response operations or other hemorrhagic fever diseases – Previous experience with WHO or other UN agencies
Skills – Excellent communication skills. – Excellent analytical, planning and organizational skills. – Ability to work in the team, with limited supervision. – Ability to work under pressure.  
Languages – Fluency in spoken and written English.  
Deployment duration – 4 weeks minimum – 8 weeks or more.

 WHO is seeking the support of GOARN partners for deployments of a minimum of 4-week periods. All functions listed below will work in close collaboration with other members of the team, WHO Country Office in Nigeria, Ministry of Health, NCDC, and Operational Partners in the field.

In line with the usual GOARN procedures, WHO will cover the cost of travel and per diem (daily allowance) for staff deployed, and provide logistics and security support in country.


Offers of support can only be submitted through the GOARN knowledge platform (

To submit an offer for this position please use link “Click here to apply” at the bottom of this message. Experts who do not have access to the GOARN knowledge platform will be prompted to create a restricted user account when accessing the platform for the first time.

Focal points in GOARN partner institutions are encouraged to submit offers for experts from their institutions by logging in to the GOARN Knowledge platform and submitting offers through “Lassa fever, Nigeria, 2019” operations page.

Please provide all required details for the offer including CV, availability date range, minimum and maximum duration for deployment.

Please note that only complete applications from candidates, fulfilling all essential requirements listed above will be considered. 

Operational contacts:

WHO Headquarters (HQ), Geneva: Pat Drury (; GOARN Operational Support Team (; 

WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO), Brazzaville: Patrick Abok (

WHO Country Office, Nigeria: Ifeanyi OKUDO (
Click here to apply

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