Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants (FAQ)

Updated April 26, 2022

Below are answers to the most common questions about becoming and working as a STOP Program consultant. Additional information can be found on how to apply and within the position descriptions.

Many countries have a shortage of skilled public health staff available to fully support immunization and surveillance activities. STOP consultants provide critical field support to help strengthen national immunization systems, support supplemental immunization activities, respond to disease outbreaks, and support polio eradication.

STOP consultants work closely with representatives from local health authorities, ministries of health, the World Health Organizationexternal icon (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fundexternal icon (UNICEF) to reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD) in their country of assignment.

Each STOP assignment is 11 months long with the potential to renew or extend for an additional year.

STOP assignments are intended for public health professionals with extensive experience working at the district and regional levels of health systems and who can work autonomously to provide technical leadership with little direct supervision. If you are interested in applying, please read more about the requirements for STOP Program consultant positions.

Because STOP consultants are frequently sent to countries with poor infrastructure, difficult living conditions and sometimes sensitive political and cultural situations, STOP consultants must be in excellent physical and mental health. STOP encourages participants who will need close medical supervision and access to medical facilities to postpone applying for a STOP assignment until they are in good health.

In collaboration with local, national, and international counterparts, STOP consultants often participate in the following activities:

  • Improving acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), measles and rubella, and other VPD surveillance through training of local health workers, supportive supervision, and active surveillance
  • Assisting with planning, implementation and monitoring supplemental immunization activities (SIAs) for polio, measles and rubella, and other priority VPDs
  • Improving Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) systems through capacity building, supportive supervision, and stakeholder engagement
  • Providing technical expertise in developing and tailoring communication plans and social mobilization activities to support VPD eradication and control efforts
  • Implementing communication best practices to help increase the demand for childhood immunization and vaccine acceptance
  • Supporting the national government and local partners in vaccine introduction and implementation, and the development, implementation, management, monitoring, and evaluation of communication plans for the national EPI program
  • Improving immunization and surveillance data recording and reporting processes
  • Improving data quality monitoring and evaluation, and sharing feedback
  • Improving data analysis and use
  • Improving data sharing with partners and stakeholders

STOP consultants are deployed around the world to countries that request technical assistance (field support and capacity building) to their VPD surveillance and immunization programs. These include polio endemic and high-risk polio countries, priority countries for measles and rubella elimination, and other countries at high risk of VPD transmission. These countries can change from year-to-year. Read more about the countries the STOP Program supports and why it matters.

The STOP Program supports countries most in need of assistance, which are often those with poor infrastructure, difficult living conditions, and sometimes sensitive political and cultural situations. While the safety of our STOP consultants is of the utmost importance, often STOP consultants live in difficult conditions in the communities they serve. Some challenges may include:

  • Lack of adequate electricity and water
  • Rugged traveling conditions
  • Limited medical facilities
  • Limited communication

STOP consultants do not choose their countries of assignment, and placement in a preferred country is not guaranteed.

As STOP consultants are frequently sent to challenging environments with very demanding living and working conditions, family members are not permitted to accompany STOP consultants to their country of assignment or to STOP training. Applicants should be aware that communications in the field can be very limited, as many areas may have very limited telephone or internet access. Applicants should seriously consider their personal/familial situation or any other extenuating circumstances before applying.

STOP consultants are volunteer positions. STOP consultants are not paid a salary and are not employed. The STOP Program works with WHO to cover the cost of airline tickets, and STOP consultants are provided with a daily living allowance to cover lodging, food, and other miscellaneous expenses. STOP consultants are assigned to foreign countries and are issued WHO non-staff consultancy contracts.

As a volunteer program, STOP is mutually beneficial to STOP consultants, the countries they in which they work, and the communities they serve. During their assignments, STOP consultants integrate closely with local communities and work alongside both staff and non-staff from local health authorities, ministries of health, WHO, UNICEF, CDC, and non-governmental organizations (NGO) on a daily basis. The work that STOP consultants perform has a powerful impact on the health systems of their assignment countries and provides a valuable opportunity for professional and personal growth.

Under the WHO consultancy contract, STOP consultants are entitled to medical and security evacuation and are covered by an accident and emergency medical health insurance coverage (outsourced to Cigna International). They are also covered by a Cigna permanent disability and death coverage scheme.

No – the STOP recruitment process is long and the landscape on the ground is ever changing. Please do not quit your job prior to being formally accepted to the STOP Program. In addition, please speak with your supervisor about the possibility of taking an extended leave of absence or suspending your contract if selected to participate.

Although consultants are recruited and trained primarily by the CDC, STOP consultants are under the supervision of either WHO or UNICEF once deployed to the field under short-term nil-remuneration WHO consultancy contracts for the duration of their assignment. Under this non-staff contract they are considered WHO “experts.” The WHO contract aids the STOP consultants in working with country offices, local government, NGOs, and local partners and facilitates their movements within the country.

It is not possible to hold two United Nations (UN) contracts at once. Since STOP consultants are deployed on WHO contracts, you must either suspend your current UN contract or decline to participate in the STOP Program.

STOP is a full-time position and STOP consultants are recruited to assist in areas of the world that need their complete attention and dedication. You should expect seven-day work weeks during your assignment. Leaving your post during your assignment period is highly discouraged and must be approved in advance by WHO, UNICEF, and CDC. If approved for leave, the consultant’s daily per-diem will be suspended during leave and all travel expenses are the responsibility of the STOP consultant.

Page last reviewed: April 26, 2022
Content source: Global Immunization