Each post maintains a health unit with at least one full-time medical officer who handles Volunteers’ primary health-care needs, including evaluation and treatment of most medical conditions. Upon your arrival in-country, you will receive a country-specific health handbook. During pre-service training, the health unit will provide you with a medical kit with basic medical supplies to treat mild illnesses and first aid needs. During this time, you must provide your own prescription medications and any other specific medical supplies you need. (Bring a three-month supply of your prescriptions!). Your prescription medications will be ordered for you during Pre-Service training, and it may take several months for shipments to arrive. After training the medical officers will provide the prescription medications you take during service. Your medical kit can be restocked anytime during service.
During service, the medical officers are available to answer your questions, and you may always feel free to contact them by phone, text message, email, or in person if you feel you have a physical, emotional, or other problem that relates to your health or well-being. You will have physicals at mid-service and at the end of your service, and can be seen by your medical officer on an as-needed basis. Additional medical care is available at local hospitals. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer will consult with the Office of Health Services in Washington, D.C., or a regional medical officer. If you cannot receive the care you need in-country, you will be transported to a Peace Corps-approved regional medical facility or the U.S. Read more about the Peace Corps’ approach to health.
Health Issues In-CountryGuyana is a tropical country with a dense population along its coastline and smaller, scattered groups in the more remote interior. Similar to other tropical countries many of the health problems are the result of its geography and its relationship with human habitation and lifestyles. Basic health services in the interior are primitive to non-existent, and some procedures are not available at all. Most of the population is crowded in the low-lying coastal plain, where cycles of flooding and drought have historically made sanitation difficult. The coastal plain is a hospitable environment for mosquitoes carrying diseases, and crowded housing and poor waste disposal facilitates the spread of diseases. In the rural/remote communities, sewage treatment remains inadequate, especially in the villages. Among the endemic illnesses in Guyana are malaria, filariasis, tuberculosis, and diarrheal diseases such as typhoid. The leading causes of death are circulatory, respiratory, infectious, and parasitic diseases.
All mosquito-borne parasitic and viral infections exist in Guyana, including malaria, filariasis, and dengue fever. The interior regions of the country have the highest incidence of malaria, with sporadic cases reported on the coast. Filariasis and dengue fever are increasingly affecting communities on both the coast and interior regions and these health problems occur mainly during rainy seasons. Leishmania, a fly-borne disease, can be found primarily in the interior and on the Brazilian border of Guyana.
In malaria endemic areas, malaria prophylaxis is required. On arrival, each Volunteer meets with their Peace Corps Medical Officer to discuss choices of malaria prophylaxis and the risks and benefits of each. Each Volunteer can discuss their concerns with the Medical Officer, and then decide which medication they are most comfortable taking for effective malaria prevention. Throughout their service, Volunteers have ongoing discussions with their Peace Corps Medical Officer and have the opportunity to make adjustments to their malaria prophylaxis medication. In addition, the Medical Officer will recommend prevention strategies, including sleeping under permethrin-treated mosquito bed nets, use of insect repellent, and wearing long sleeves and pants.