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 bring 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 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 United States. Read more about the Peace Corps’ approach to health.
Health Issues In-Country
The tropical climate and prevalent medical concerns in Sri Lanka will require you to pay special attention to maintaining your health. During Pre-Service Training, the medical officer will provide you with information regarding the prevention and treatment of mosquito-borne illness, tropical fevers, respiratory infections, animal and snake bites, skin diseases common in the tropics, and water- and food-borne illness. In terms of mosquito-borne illness, there is a high incidence of dengue fever in Sri Lanka, but no cases of malaria have been reported in the last three years. Malaria prophylaxis is not recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and therefore will not be provided by the Peace Corps in Sri Lanka. Immunizations required and provided by Peace Corps during Pre-Service Training include: Rabies; Typhoid; Hepatitis A and B; Southern Hemisphere Influenza; and Japanese Encephalitis. High quality personal water filtration systems will be provided to you for use during your service.
Most Volunteers will be placed rural areas or small towns some distance from the capital city of Colombo. Peace Corps Sri Lanka develops individual medical action plans for Volunteers with relevant information on Peace Corps approved medical providers near each site. Tele-medicine consults with the medical officer will be used to provide timely assessment and treatment of minor illnesses or for referrals for diagnostic tests at approved facilities near each site. In emergencies or for acute illness, the medical officer will arrange transport to Colombo, where western-standard medical care is available. In these cases, the medical officer will manage care of Volunteers using approved facilities, consulting with approved providers, and the Office of Health Services at Peace Corps Headquarters, if required.
It is ultimately your responsibility to stay well-rested and hydrated, to maintain good nutrition and hygiene, to practice stress management, and to follow your medical officer’s advice to minimize the possibility of becoming seriously ill. It also important that you are forthright with the Peace Corps about your physical and mental health history and report any health issues promptly.