Health & Safety
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With more than 55 years of experience behind us, the Peace Corps has developed first-class programs staffed by global experts to provide Volunteers with the best training, guidance, and support available to help them remain healthy, safe, and productive throughout service. Still, the Peace Corps cannot eliminate every risk that Volunteers face.
Information on the Zika Virus [PDF].
Volunteer assignments are physically and mentally demanding. Volunteers typically experience more physical activity, less-developed transportation systems, new diets, and new challenges to personal resilience. Other challenges can include different housing and sanitation norms and less health-care infrastructure than what is available in the U.S.
Because of the circumstances where Volunteers serve, some health conditions that are easily managed in the U.S. present serious health risks in the countries where Peace Corps Volunteers serve. Volunteers can only serve in programs and countries that can support their medical needs, as determined by the Health History Form completed with the application.
Once a Volunteer arrives in their country of service, Peace Corps medical officers are available to provide health-care services to Volunteers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Peace Corps provides immunizations, medical supplies, medications, and full health-care coverage while in service, including, if necessary, air ambulance to a regional medical hub or the U.S. for treatment. For detailed information about the kinds of medical conditions Volunteers report while in service, see the Peace Corps’ annual Health of the Volunteer report [PDF].
Volunteers serve worldwide, sometimes in very remote areas, so some risk is an inherent part of Volunteer service. Volunteers are provided with extensive training to reduce the risks of health and safety issues as much as possible. They are supported with language and cultural integration training to help them become a part of their host community, which has invited them to live, work, and serve, and is deeply invested in helping keep them safe. The Peace Corps has a rigorous site selection process to ensure all measures available are in place to protect a Volunteer’s safety.
Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur. Precise information about reported incident rates, by country and crime type, is available in the Peace Corps' Annual Statistical Report of Crimes Against Volunteers [PDF].
Volunteers have access to a safety and security manager 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Each Peace Corps country has a specific emergency plan, and Volunteers are thoroughly trained in their roles and responsibilities should there be a natural disaster, political conflict, or other disruption to normal life in their country of service. The Peace Corps also maintains a strong, collaborative relationship with U.S. embassies and host government officials to address safety and security concerns as they arise.
If you are a victim of crime, you can speak to a victim advocate 24/7.Office of Victim Advocacy