International Medical Secretary – Geneva

Location: Geneva

Contract: Permanent position - 100%

MSF Experience: Essential

Starting date: October 2015 or as soon as possible

Application deadline: 17 September 2015



Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural disasters. MSF offers assistance to people based only on need and irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

MSF International is the legal entity that binds MSF’s 21 sections, 24 associations and other offices together. Based in Geneva, MSF International provides coordination, information and support to the MSF movement, as well as implements international projects and initiatives as requested. MSF International also provides administrative support to the MSF Access Campaign.

In 2009, MSF launched a full revision and redefinition of its international governance structures, both at the associative and executive levels. In June 2011, the International Council approved and endorsed the associative governance reform, with the creation of an International General Assembly (IGA) to replace the International Council. The IGA of December 2011 appointed a new International Board (IB) and elected its members. In parallel, the General Directors have discussed and validated proposals on the executive reform that complement the associative governance reform. An Executive Committee (ExCom) was created, and a Core ExCom put in place in June 2012. 

As part of these reforms, the need for strengthening MSF’s medical leadership at an international executive level was confirmed. The position of International Medical Secretary (IMS), with specific roles and responsibilities within the international governance set-up, has been created to help enhance MSF’s internal and external reflections and representation on medical operational issues.

Reporting to the Secretary General (SG) of MSF International, the IMS should strengthen MSF’s role as a medical leader both internally and externally.

Along with the SG, the President of MSF International, the International Medical Coordinator (IMC), the Executive Director of the Access Campaign, and the primary executive platforms related to medical operational issues, the IMS will build up a solid overall medical leadership with a strategic vision that will ensure that MSF’s medical operational priorities at the international level are defined, promoted and moved forward. The IMS will actively promote strong links and communication across the main medical operational platforms to ensure leadership and progress for the movement on these medical priorities. The IMS will also be expected to represent the movement externally, communicating and advocating MSF’s views on agreed medical operational priorities, policies and positions.


The International Medical Secretary will report to the Secretary General of MSF International and will oversee the work of the International Medical Coordinator (IMC).

The IMS will be a voting member of the Core ExCom, which will take decisions on movement-wide strategic issues and issues related to MSF’s social mission.

The IMS will have the direct or indirect (if delegated) responsibility for chairing the Medical-Operational (DirMed-DirOp) platform and will participate in the DirOp and DirMed platforms when requested or for issues related to his/her scope of responsibility.

The IMS will chair directly or indirectly (if delegated) the Steering Committee (SC) of the Access Campaign and work closely with the Campaign Executive Director to prepare the agenda and ensure accountability and communication of SC priorities and actions with the ExCom.

The IMS will attend and, with its Chair, help prepare the International Board Medical Standing Committee in order to ensure the link with the IB on MSF’s medical priorities and positions. He or she will organise the participation of the DirMed, IMC and Access Campaign Executive Director accordingly.

The IMS will serve as a key member of MSF International’s Management Team (MT), and will play an active role in shaping the priorities and activities of MSF International, including the development and implementation of annual and multiyear work plans.


The overall function and objective of the IMS position is to enhance and strengthen medical leadership at the international level by ensuring that MSF medical priorities and innovations in MSF medical practice are defined, promoted and moved forward, and that these priorities become part of an international agenda addressed through the appropriate processes across the movement. For this purpose the IMS will:

  • Ensure the follow-up of international medical priorities, policies and positions in cooperation with the DirMed, DirOps, Access Campaign and ExCom;
  • With the IMC and the DirMed platform, and in cooperation with the Access Campaign, be a medical focal point for the movement to ensure a coherent and strategic relationship with key external actors and partners, according to topic and level of interaction;
  • Play an active role with key strategic input in the movement’s internal and external medical and operational accountability;
  • Have an overview of the different medical entities of MSF and together with the IMC look for possibilities for sharing resources and encouraging synergies;
  • Be a main point of contact for Epicentre and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative;
  • Work with the President of MSF International, the Secretary General, the Executive Director of the Access Campaign and, where appropriate, the International Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, to act as MSF spokesperson on specific medical issues.


Medical leadership and strategic vision

The IMS will:

  • Together with the DirMed and the IMC, develop a comprehensive MSF approach on key medical issues that responds to evolving MSF field needs and practices;
  • Actively support and track implementation of IB and IGA resolutions and commitments on medical issues by MSF operations;
  • Develop, together with the Access Campaign, the DirMed-DirOp, and the Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, a strategy for following and engaging with global health actors on priority issues for MSF;
  • Ensure a strong link between the agreed Access Campaign priorities and the development of a forward-looking medical strategy;
  • Elaborate and propose an optimal framework that will integrate all medical entities currently existing in the movement;
  • Define an accountability and quality framework for medical issues.

Communication and interaction between medical and operational departments and key platforms

The IMS will play a key role in internal communication and will facilitate the link and communication on medical operational issues between the following: International Board, ExCom, DirMed-DirOp, Steering Committee of the Access Campaign, etc.

Based on suggestions and outputs from the IB, DirMed, and Medical Working Group, the IMS will also:

  • Ensure the sharing of information with operations about ongoing medical policies and priorities;
  • Ensure better coordination, information exchange and accountability between the operational centres on medical issues;
  • Promote interaction on medical issues with field operations, when relevant.

External representation and lobbying

The IMS, together with the President of MSF International and the Executive Director of the Access Campaign, will ensure representation, public positioning and advocacy on medical issues to identified external actors.

The IMS, together with the other members of the Steering Committee of the Access Campaign, will oversee the translation of MSF medical priorities within the Access Campaign’s scope into effective medical advocacy and representation.

The IMS will play a central role in coordinating the external communication of MSF International on specific medical issues, in particular those that are not addressed through the Access Campaign, in collaboration with the IMC, the International Policy and Advocacy Coordinator and the International Communication Coordinator. He/she will build on and support the work of Medical Working Groups and the DirMed platform in identifying issues and developing messages.

Platforms and meetings

The IMS will be:

  • A voting member of the Core ExCom;
  • Present at the International Board Medical Standing Committee (IBMSC), ensuring the link with the International Board on all medical issues along with the President;
  • Chair of the Medical Operational Platform (DirMed-DirOp);
  • Chair of the Steering Committee of the Access Campaign.

As per request and when deemed necessary for specific issues, the IMS will participate in DirMed meetings as well as DirOp meetings and all key medical bodies and relevant meetings in the movement.

The IMS will organise medical meetings with members of the different medical and operational entities and the Access Campaign as needed.

Management role

The IMS will supervise the International Medical Coordinator and will actively participate in the management team meetings of MSF International.

The IMS will pro-actively suggest and organise team meetings on medical issues with concerned coordinators and medical staff of MSF International.


Education and experience

  • Medical doctor
  • Knowledge of public health and management of medical humanitarian projects
  • A demonstrated commitment to the Charter of MSF
  • A commitment to building the medical leadership of the MSF movement
  • A minimum of five (5) years experience in field medical–humanitarian projects
  • Significant MSF field experience, preferably with more than one Operational Centre
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English, and preferably also in French and/or Spanish

Skills and competencies

  • Identification with MSF
  • Cross-cultural awareness, open-mindedness and flexibility
  • Internal user and/or end beneficiary orientation
  • Quality and results orientation
  • Strategic vision
  • Leadership and management
  • Diplomacy and self-control
  • Initiative and innovation
  • Team player


  • Willingness and ability to travel extensively for meetings and for visits to field projects
  • Commitment of minimum three (3) years is required


Deadline for applications: 17 September 2015

Please submit all applications only by email to: stating “IMS” in the title.

Please submit only ONE FILE containing your CV and cover letter and name the file with your LAST NAME only.

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.