Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive approach to disease. The Peace Corps will provide you with the necessary vaccinations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Each post maintains a health unit with a 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 basic medical supplies and a medical kit to treat mild illnesses and first aid needs, which can be restocked during service. 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!) The medical officer will order medications for you, and it may take several months for shipments to arrive.
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-Country
Liberia is a country with scant to nonexistent health-care resources outside the capitol, and extremely limited resources in Monrovia. This requires a strong emphasis on preventive care.
Malaria is rampant in Liberia. 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.
Once in Liberia, Volunteers will be trained on Ebola awareness and prevention during PST. Additional vector-borne diseases are filariasis, typhus, leishmaniasis, and Lassa fever. Tuberculosis, meningitis, typhoid, and cholera, as well as a variety of bacterial and diarrheal diseases, are also endemic, mandating that proper water and food safety measures be taken on a daily basis. A water filter will be provided to ensure safe drinking water. Bacterial and fungal skin diseases are easily contracted in a tropical climate, and heatstroke and sunburn are also of concern.