Head of Manson Unit/Deputy Medical Director MSF Amsterdam

Department: Manson Unit
Hours: Full time
Reports to: Executive Director, MSF UK
Location: London
Duration: Permanent contract
Salary range:  £52,209 - £60,525 (currently under review)


Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is an independent and international medical aid organisation. In over 60 countries worldwide, we provide life-saving emergency relief, including epidemic control, war surgery, nutritional assistance and primary healthcare.

MSF's aim is to provide impartial assistance, on the basis of need alone, regardless of ethnic origin, gender, creed or political affiliation. To maintain its independence from political interference, MSF relies on donations from private individuals for the majority of its income. This private funding gives MSF the freedom to respond to the greatest needs as quickly and independently as possible.

As medical professionals, MSF volunteers have a duty to bear witness and sometimes to speak out on behalf of the patients and communities they are working with. MSF campaigns locally and internationally for humanitarian principles and medical ethics and for access to essential medicines for the world’s poorest and most excluded people.

MSF UK is one of 23 offices and operational centres in Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Australasia, pooling funding, expertise and staff for field operations. Around 3,000 people volunteer their skills every year to work as international staff and the organisation also employs around 27,000 locally in the project locations.

The mandate of the UK section is to provide technical, medical, human resources, financial and communications support to field operations. A permanent team of around 78 is based in London and there is a small sub office in Dublin, which has a significant communications agenda. Approximately 250 British volunteers leave on field assignments every year, which makes MSF UK the largest recruiter of the medical staff for overseas humanitarian work in the country.

The Manson Unit

The Manson Unit (MU) is a team of specialists that aims to improve the quality of MSF’s medical programmes worldwide, so we can deliver the best possible care to our patients. Established in 2003, the unit was named after the father of modern tropical medicine, Sir Patrick Manson.

The MU is a multi-disciplinary medical team within MSF UK, and is part of MSF Operational Centre Amsterdam’s (OCA) Public Health Department +. Known as the PHD+ it represents the medical department based in Amsterdam and Berlin.  The unit’s focus is on complex medical issues, using health intelligence, research and medical innovation in support of the MSF OCA medical strategy and in collaboration with the wider MSF movement. Our goal is to catalyse change through demonstrating effective new approaches and models of care, and linking in with international advocacy and global health actors.

The MU is comprised of medical doctors and specialists in infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, health information systems, epidemiology, geographical information systems, medical editing and research communication. We also have a clinical trial team who are working towards improved treatments for patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis. Our team provides direct support to our field programmes through specialist advice on medical issues, implementing new ways of working, supporting research studies and outbreak response.

UK health expertise

Our base in the UK allows us to foster collaborations with a diverse range of institutions and to advocate for funding, research and political attention for neglected medical issues. Our academic partnerships with institutions such as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and Imperial College brings external expertise to bear on some of the more complex medical issues experienced by crisis affected populations. 

About the PHD+ of Operational Centre Amsterdam (OCA)

The Public Health Department+ (PHD+) is responsible for all aspects of the medical strategy and delivery of care through the provision of medical leadership, the development of medical policies and norms, medical innovation and direct field support.  The department acts as a counterpart to the Operations Department and in tandem, is responsible for the implementation OCA’s social mission.  It operates over three different locations: Amsterdam, Berlin and London.  As such it strives to set the example and demonstrate the practical implementation of the vision and philosophy of the OCA partnership – each partner will bring their unique contributions and strengths and assume joint responsibility for OCA’s social mission.

It is currently made up of:

  • Amsterdam Unit and two Health Advisors, and a medical Operational Manager in Berlin.  Primarily focuses on direct medical operational management and specialist medical strategic and technical support across a wide range of core topic areas.
  • Manson Unit in the London Office (which includes two staff members in Berlin)
  • Potentially in the future, there may be contributions from other OCA offices, such as the Berlin Medical Unit and/or from New Delhi. 

Each unit plays a key role in the development and implementation of the OCA medical strategy through clear delegation of responsibilities and functions.


MSF UK is looking for a dynamic, resilient and inspiring individual to lead the MU as it works to further realise its potential and role as a fully integrated part of the wider OCA Public Health Department+ whilst also maintaining its commitments and support to the wider MSF movement.

The role of the Head of the Manson Unit/Deputy Medical Director OCA is essentially threefold:

  1. To manage and technically support the team in its current core thematic areas:
  • Complex medical challenges including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and non-communicable diseases;
  • Epidemiology and public health intelligence;
  • Strategic leadership and management of research and innovation
  • In collaboration with MSF UK’s Programme Unit, develop social science approaches, and with the access to essential medicines campaign, and other MSF actors, to work on advocacy
  • A hub for academic and professional medical networks to bring expertise/human resources and technical support into the MSF movement. This will involve working with all MSF operational centres and collaboration with other partners including Epicentre, international MSF platforms/working groups, the Access Campaign, and other external institutions.
  1. As one of the senior leaders in the Department (along with the Medical Director and the Amsterdam-based Deputy Medical Director), assume joint responsibility for the development and implementation of OCA’s medical strategy. This will involve representation on key OCA and MSF international platforms, as delegated by the Medical Director, as well as responsibility for major medical projects. 
  1. As a member of the MSF UK & Ireland Management Team, play an important part in the functioning of an effective, vibrant and creative MSF section.

Position in the Organisation

The Head of the Manson Unit/Deputy Medical Director OCA reports:

  • Hierarchically to the Executive Director of MSF UK
  • Functionally to the OCA Medical Director for all OCA-related work and to the Executive Director of MSF UK for non-OCA related work.
  • The Head of the MU/Deputy Medical Director is a member of the MSF UK Management Team and the OCA Operations Platform (refer to the Terms of Reference for those platforms for responsibilities etc.)
  • Member of the senior leadership group in the OCA PHD+ (comprises the OCA Medical Director and the two Deputy Medical Directors)

Main Responsibilities

As Deputy Medical Director OCA

  • Together with the Medical Director and the Amsterdam-based Deputy Medical Director:
    • Defines OCA medical strategy, policy and objectives to inform the development of each new OCA Strategic Plan and the wider departmental annual plans and priorities
    • Steers the implementation of the medical strategy and the annual plans through involvement in control cycle meetings, key platforms (e.g. the OCA Operations Platform), interdepartmental relationships (e.g. with the Emergency Support Department) and networking with other entities around the MSF movement
    • Reviews, identifies and proposes resources required to deliver year on year Annual Plans for approval by section management teams
    • Provides leadership and oversight for the functioning of the OCA PHD
    • Embed best practice of geographically-dispersed team working
    • Ensures a positive working culture and effective communication across the wider department
  • Ensures sharing of knowledge, learning and innovation with/across other platforms and departments
  • Ensures appropriate information sharing, interaction and collaboration with other platforms and departments on relevant topics
    • Leads and delivers on specific topics and transversal dossiers of work within the OCA Strategic Plan
    • Leads and delivers on specific OCA projects for which (s)he acts as sponsor
    • Leads on the development and elaboration of OCA’s operational research agenda
    • Provides strategic steer and support for specific OCA medical thematic areas
    • On behalf of the Medical Director, represents OCA in specific MSF intersectional forums, working groups and platforms
    • Provide OCA medical leadership for specific inter-sectional dossiers of work
    • Provide MSF senior medical representation for external engagements with global health institutions and networks

As Head of the Manson Unit

Unit Strategy & Management

  • Leads the MU strategic and annual planning, in conjunction with the wider OCA PHD+, and other relevant planning and/or reporting documents
  • Leads the MU to deliver on those plans
  • Plans, monitors and controls the MU budget
  • Coordinates and manages resources needed to meet the MU objectives
  • Reports regularly on activities and outputs of the MU
  • Works with other UK departments, other MSF entities and externals to enable effective working
  • Stimulates debates, reflection and medical innovation both internally and externally
  • Leads the annual MSF Scientific Days hosted by MSF-UK

People Management

  • Leads, manages and coordinates the wider MU team, including consultants working on ad hoc projects and volunteers with specific tasks, ensuring the optimal structure for the unit
  • Ensures adherence to established HR policies and management practices
  • Directly line manages specific staff including performance reviews, ongoing supervision and support

Representation & Liaison

  • Represents MSF UK on the OCA Operations Platform
  • Maintains an active network with operations, medical departments and field teams across the MSF movement to inform MSF UK’s operational policy
  • Maintains active contact with Epicentre, the Access Campaign, the Ethics Review Board and other MSF satellites
  • Develops and strengthens relationships with a diverse range of UK based institutions (academic, government etc) to advocate for funding, research and sharing of medical expertise in order to raise the standards of our medical operations, ensuring these relationships are in line with our strategic objectives
  • When needed, represents MSF towards the media, donors and other NGOs, particularly on important medical issues

General Management

  • Contributes to the overall strategy of MSF UK both as Head of MU and as a member of the UK & Ireland Management Team
  • Represents the PHD+/MU to the UK Board of Trustees
  • Ensures close working relations between the MU, the Programmes Unit and Communications Department, particularly on OCA related issues and advocacy
  • Liaises with other MSF UK departments in order to further the goals of MSF UK in communications, fundraising, human resources

Person Specification

  • Demonstrable medical leadership and strategic overview essential
  • MSF experience (field and/or headquarters) at co-ordinator level essential
  • Medical background essential, strong paramedical candidates will be considered
  • Good understanding and knowledge of medical issues and challenges in MSF fields essential
  • Masters’ Degree in Public Health/Epidemiology an advantage
  • Experience in research strategy development and management
  • Experience working with research ethical review Boards
  • Proven experience and ability to manage medical staff
  • Excellent strategic planning skills
  • Proven networking and representation skills
  • Excellent communication skills in English; French desirable
  • Willing to travel within Europe and to MSF missions worldwide
  • Ability to focus and take up a challenge

How to apply

For further information about MSF UK, our application and recruitment process, as well as information on benefits and terms and conditions, please visit our website here: http://www.msf.org.uk/working-msf-uk

MSF UK is committed to diversity. We encourage applications from all sections of our diverse community and welcome applications from candidates from diverse backgrounds.

Recruitment timetable:

  • Closing date for applications: 01 June 2017, 22:59
  • Interviews: TBC
  • Preferred start date: ASAP

Please note: As we will be reviewing applications throughout the advertising period, interviews may take place before the advertised closing date.

Eligibility to work in the UK 

Candidates must hold an appropriate passport or permit to work in the UK. Further information about eligibility to work in the UK can be found on our website here: http://www.msf.org.uk/how-apply#Eligibility to work in the UK