Module 5: Multilateral & Bilateral Organizations

5.1 Multilateral Organizations

Multilateral organizations obtain their funding from multiple governments and spend it on projects in various countries. They normally require job-seekers to have specialized training in relevant fields such as public health, economics, business and social or behavioral sciences, as well as prior experience. Some examples include:

5.1.1 World Health Organization

“More than 8000 people from more than 150 countries work for the Organization in 147 country offices, six regional offices and at the headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.”(1)

The WHO was set up shortly after the Second World War as a multilateral health organization uniting countries in the common goals of fighting disease and achieving better health for the world. The WHO recruits a wide range of expertise, such as medical doctors, researchers, epidemiologists, administrative staff (financial and information systems), statisticians, economists, etc. to run an impressive array of programs and projects worldwide. Refer to their vacancies page for more employment information as well as their brochure for professional profiles.

For young professionals (i.e. Master’s Degree or higher) who wish to pursue a career in global health, the WHO provides the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) program as a starting point. Under the supervision of an experienced mentor and other WHO staff, JPOs are involved in the planning and implementation of WHO’s programs.

5.1.2 World Bank

The global burden of disease is concentrated in poor countries. Ill health is directly related to poverty because poverty restricts access to healthcare. Comprising 186 member countries, the World Bank aims to alleviate poverty by giving loan and credits on advantageous terms not available in the market, as well as grants to poor countries to initiate various development projects in the areas of education, healthcare, agriculture, environmental and natural resource management, infrastructure etc. Like the World Health Organization, the World Bank provides diverse employment opportunities such as internships, training programs for young professionals, and jobs for economists, financial specialists, lawyers, educators etc.

5.1.3 UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Education Fund)

The United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) works for the welfare of children across the globe. Improving the health of the world’s children is one of UNICEF’s primary objectives, and it devotes most of its budget to achieving this goal. UNICEF actively implements healthcare projects abroad, such as immunization, oral rehydration for babies with diarrhea, HIV/AIDS education, micronutrient supplementation etc. Like other global health organizations, it offers a variety of health-related as well as non-health related careers.

5.1.4 UNDP (United Nations Development Program)

The United Nations Development Program creates a partnership between developing countries and experts with knowledge and experience in tackling social issues like HIV/AIDS and poverty. UNDP build local capacity by helping countries to incorporate best practices and resources from around the world into national efforts to combat local problems. They offer opportunities for health-related employment in the area of HIV/AIDS consultancy as well as non-health related employment.

5.2 Bilateral Organizations

Bilateral organizations receive funding from the government in their home countries, and use the funding to aid developing countries. Job requirements are similar to those of international organizations, though there are more opportunities for internships and entry-level positions:

5.2.1 USAID (United States Agency for International Development)

According to its website, USAID is “an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.”(2) USAID provides aid to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, and the Middle East to initiate development work in the area of education, healthcare, poverty reduction, agriculture, the environment etc. In the area of global health, USAID implements HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs, strengthens health systems, fights infectious diseases and strives to improve maternal and child health through immunization, better nutrition etc. Refer to their careers page for more information.

5.2.2 USPHS (U.S. Public Health Service)

The U.S. Public Health Service is a governmental agency that serves the nation’s public health needs, performing research for the prevention, treatment, and eradication of disease, creating partnerships with others to address global health challenges as well as ensuring timely and effective response to disease epidemics. The USPHS hires U.S. citizens who are physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, dietitians, engineers, scientists, therapists, veterinarians and other health service providers. Visit their website for more details.   

5.2.3 CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The CDC is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that implements public health initiatives in the United States. Refer to their website for a list of health-related employment opportunities. Non-citizens who meet special requirements are also eligible for employment.

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(1) "WHO/WHO - its people and offices." World Health Organization. World Health Organization. 15 Jul 2009.

(2) "USAID: Frequently Asked Questions." USAID: From the American People. 03 Feb 2009. USAID. 15 Jul 2009.