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-CountryAs a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho you will be expected to play a vital and proactive role in your health care. When you get here, you will realize that your emotional and physical health will depend on how you deal with social, work, and environmental factors. Lesotho has none of the exotic or tropical illnesses or diseases common to most other parts of Africa. The exception to this is HIV/AIDS, which is prevalent in Lesotho at a rate of 23 percent. The Peace Corps has adopted medical policies and practices worldwide to help protect Volunteers and staff from transmission of this disease, but it is each Volunteer’s responsibility to take steps to avoid infection.
Due to high altitude and temperate nature of the climate, there is no malaria or bilharzias (schistosomiasis) in Lesotho. However, since Volunteers do travel outside of Lesotho, the personal health and safety component of pre-service training covers a wide variety of illnesses, including problems you may encounter in Southern Africa. Illnesses that Volunteers in Lesotho commonly experience are diarrhea from amoebas and giardia; high fevers from varied causes; skin infections from fungus, bacteria, or insect bites; upper respiratory symptoms; and allergies from dust and dryness. Diarrhea is the number-one complaint by Volunteers worldwide, and Lesotho is no exception. Peace Corps/Lesotho recommends that Volunteers boil all their drinking water for three minutes. This method is adequate at all altitudes and helps prevent many illnesses that are waterborne. Many other diseases are related to poor hygienic conditions.