Community Health Educator

Project Description

The purpose of the Community Health Program is to build the capacities of health professionals, health care workers, and individuals, to adopt healthy behaviors. Your work as a Community Health Educator will support the following program goals:

1. Community members will adopt behaviors and practices that contribute to improved maternal, neonatal, and child health outcomes.
2. Community members and outreach agents will adopt behaviors and practices that counter malaria, leading to a decrease in morbidity and mortality.
3. Community members will adopt healthy behaviors and practices to decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS and mitigate its harmful effects.

Community Health Educators will accomplish these goals through four key areas of intervention:

1. Education of individuals and groups on mother and child health and improved nutritional practices.
2. Mobilization of communities to support mother and child health and nutrition.
3. Formation and strengthening care groups that address mother and child health, nutrition, malaria, and/or HIV/AIDS prevention.
4. Designing and implementing behavior change focused HIV prevention interventions for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). These interventions must include gender equitable practices properly mainstreamed to address AGYW risks and vulnerabilities.

Peace Corps Cameroon approaches HIV prevention as a cross-sector initiative, with the goal of keeping AGYW HIV free. Volunteers work to achieve this goal by:

1. Engaging communities and family members to support risk avoidance and risk reduction interventions for AGYW and their male counterparts.
2. Educating AGYW and adolescent boys on all aspects of HIV prevention and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) using age/sex appropriate curriculum provided by Peace Corps Cameroon.
3. Empowering AGYW to adopt life skills that would enable them to choose healthy lifestyles.

Volunteers’ HIV prevention and intervention consists of the following activities:

• Condom promotion with a focus on skill building to ensure correct and consistent use
• Curriculum based age/sex appropriate HIV and SRH education
• Promotion of messaging on positive gender norms
• Prevention of Gender Based Violence
• Targeted mobilization of AGYW and adolescent boys to access HIV testing and counselling services

Peace Corps Volunteers are encouraged to do cross-sector work with the Education and Agriculture programs. As such, Community Health Volunteers are expected to create health clubs in schools and teach health related topics to students including reproductive health, life skills, and HIV/STI prevention. They also work closely with the Agriculture Volunteers and carry out activities aimed at combatting malnutrition in their communities through the promotion of the cultivation/production and consumption of soybean, Moringa, mushrooms, and orange-flesh sweet potatoes. In addition, Community Health Educators and their counterparts are encouraged to build their capacities by raising small animals and through other agricultural activities that can be beneficial to the improvement of health in their communities.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

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

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:

• 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
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing
• Familiarity with health work, particularly maternal and child health, and HIV/AIDS
• Familiarity with health work particularly maternal and child health, and HIV/AIDS
• Desire to work at the community/rural level to meet the community’s health needs
• Experience in project planning
• Interest in development work in general, health promotion/education, and behavior change

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 commitment to self‐study and a subsequent placement test (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).

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 Pre-Service Training, which is the Intermediate-High competency level.

For easy integration and a successful service, you are also expected to learn the local language spoken in your community. Volunteers will receive 120 hours of language training including French and possibly a local language.

Volunteers are provided with additional opportunities to continue improving their French speaking as they go to their community placement. It is recommended that invitees begin intensive French learning in the U.S. before departing for Cameroon.

Living Conditions

Cameroon is a wonderfully diverse and complex country. It is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” owing to the variety of ethnic groups, religions, and geographic diversity. Tropical, equatorial, and semi-arid climates are found in Cameroon. The country is officially bilingual with French and English as official languages. Two of its ten regions are predominantly English-speaking, while the other eight are predominantly French-speaking. More than 250 additional languages are spoken throughout the country.

Volunteer assignments are concentrated in six of the French-speaking regions. Volunteers work in the West, Adamawa, Centre, East, Littoral, and South. As a result of current political unrest and security issues, Volunteer placements and travel are restricted in the English-speaking regions (Northwest and Southwest) as well as the Northern regions (North and Far North).

Since 1962, Peace Corps has enjoyed a long history in Cameroon. Living conditions in the country vary greatly from one Volunteer community to another. Volunteer communities range in population size from a few hundred to over ten thousand inhabitants. Volunteers must be flexible, resilient, and willing to live in very modest conditions without electricity, running water, and limited access to the internet and telephone coverage. Housing in each site is typically like those of the local inhabitants of the community. Volunteers are provided with a water filter, a mosquito net, and a medical kit. In typical rural communities, houses are built with cement blocks or mud and roofed with zinc, aluminum sheeting, or thatch. Most toilets are outdoor latrines. Kerosene lamps are used for lighting, and drinking water is collected from nearby streams, bore holes, or wells. Some Volunteers may be placed in family concessions, with the Volunteer having their own room.

Volunteers receive a settling-in allowance to purchase basic items that are needed to set up their houses. Small stores exist in communities where Volunteers are posted where you can buy very basic household and food supplements for cooking. Locally cultivated staple foodstuff are also available. The most common are cassava, plantain, cocoyam, sweet potato, beans, peanuts and some others that vary depending on the region.

Transportation to and from your site may be challenging at times, especially during the rainy season, due to the bad state of the roads. Motorbikes and “bush taxis” are the most common means of transportation in most communities. For safety reasons, all Volunteers are provided with a motorcycle helmet. Peace Corps Cameroon can provide a bicycle to each Volunteer upon request.

Cameroon has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training, and identify some potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees. 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 (700-4,000 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.

Serving in Cameroon

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

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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