Community Health Educator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Peace Corps Cameroon’s Community Health Program empowers health care workers, communities, and individuals to reduce neonatal health issues connected to child morbidity and mortality. Your work as a Community Health Educator will support the following Program goals:

I) Community members will adopt behaviors and practices that contribute to improved maternal, neonatal, and child health outcomes

II) Community members and outreach agents will adopt behaviors and practices that counter malaria, leading to a decrease in morbidity and mortality

III) Community members will adopt healthy behaviors and practices to decrease the spread of HIV and mitigate its harmful effects.

You will accomplish these goals through four key areas of intervention:

1. Educating individuals and groups on mother and child health and good nutrition

2. Mobilizing community members to support mother and child health and nutrition

3. Creating and strengthening care groups that address mother and child health, nutrition, malaria, and/or HIV prevention

4. Linking people living with HIV to treatment and other HIV services

Cameroon promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers will receive training on gender challenges in country and will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During service, Volunteers will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of their work, Volunteers will also report on these efforts and their impact.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in the health sector and one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Successful candidates will have the following relevant qualifications and qualities:

• Master of Public Health degree or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Health

• Certified Physician Assistant or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health

• Willingness to work in a team environment as well as be a dedicated self-starter

• Strong communication and interpersonal skills

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.

A. Completed 4 years of high school coursework within the past 8 years in a Romance language

B. Completed a minimum of 2 semesters of college level coursework within the past 6 years in a Romance language

C. Native/Fluent Romance language speaker

Candidates should have either a willingness to take a French course or commit to self‐study to attain score of 50 on the French College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Additional Language Information

French is necessary to travel safely and to interact effectively in Cameroon. Due to this, all Volunteers will have to attain a functional French level by the end of training. It is expected that all Volunteers learn a second language (in addition to French) that is widely used in the local community. It is highly recommended that invitees take an intensive French course before departing USA. While Cameroon has two official languages: French and English, most Volunteers will use an additional local language while at site. While language is an important factor in selecting the Volunteer’s site, many other factors come into consideration. Volunteers are expected to be flexible for his/her assignment and give his/her best in order to promote good health practices in Cameroon.

Living Conditions

Cameroon is a wonderful and complex country often referred to as “Africa in miniature” due to the variety of ethnic groups, religions, and its geographic diversity. It is also a country in which two of ten regions have English as their official language, and the other eight have French.

Peace Corps/Cameroon has enjoyed uninterrupted service since 1962. Living conditions in Cameroon vary greatly from Volunteer community to Volunteer community. We ask Volunteers to be flexible, resilient and willing to live in very modest conditions without electricity, running water, or connection to internet.

Cameroon has restrictive laws that target same-sex sexual acts, which are punishable by imprisonment. Persons do not identify themselves as LGBTQ due to severe societal stigma. Volunteers will need to be mindful of these cultural norms and Cameroon-specific laws which mean that LGBTQ Volunteers cannot serve openly. Peace Corps staff and currently serving Volunteers will identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees, provide support to a diverse group of Volunteers, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) individuals. LGBT Volunteers serve successfully in Cameroon. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Job Location - Most Community Health Educators are posted at a health facility in small villages (1,000-4,000 inhabitants), though a few others are posted in small towns (~25,000 inhabitants). Extension work will likely take you to small communities surrounding your primary assignment. The audiences with whom you work may be an individual one day, a community organization or a group the next day, and an entire community the day after.

Working Hours - Your working environment will be field-based which is very different from an office setting. Your work is often seen as 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While the health facility may have certain hours of operations you will find that your work extends beyond these hours and into weekends.

Cultural Attitudes and Customs in the Workplace - Your cultural and linguistic integration is critically important for your success as a volunteer. Accordingly, you will need to eat local food, speak local language(s) and fully participate in ceremonies such as funerals and weddings.

Dress code - You will quickly observe that dress is very important to Cameroonians. As a Community Health worker, coordinator and facilitator, you will have to be mindful about the way you dress and your dress code will vary depending on the occasion. For instance, during working hours at the health facility, you can wear pants/skirt covering your knees, and a long/short sleeve shirt. In official and other ceremonies, you need to dress in business casual style or in locally tailored outfits.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Cameroon: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations in Cameroon

  • Cameroon may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; some types of gynecologic support; seizure disorder; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified. 
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten, lactose, peanuts and shellfish.
  • After arrival in Cameroon, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Cameroon is host to a set of tropical diseases known as filariasis. The types of most concern to Peace Corps Volunteers are Onchocerciasis and Loa Loa. There are no preventive medications, but reducing the number of insect bites lowers the risk of infection. This can be done with wearing long sleeves/pants and applying insect repellent. Volunteers are screened for infection during and at the end of service through blood testing. Your medical team will further discuss filariasis with you during training.

Before you apply, please also review Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.

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