Community Health Support Agent

Project Description

Description :
As a Community Health Support Agent, you will work with your local counterpart to expand access to community health programs essential for the communities in which you will live and work. You will assist Senegalese Community Health Workers (CHW) by assuming the role of a facilitator, an organizer, and a motivator for your community’s health outreach.
Equitable access to quality health services is a national priority for the Government of Senegal. Consequently, the Ministry of Health and Social Action (MSAS) is promoting community health as a way to improve access to basic health care and prevention services for the majority of the population. The MSAS created a network of basic health units called health huts, and each health hut is run by two Community Health Agents (CHAs). CHAs are volunteers from the community who have received training to provide basic health care. They are supported by Community Health Educators (CHEs) who are in charge of educating the community on disease prevention and the adoption of healthy practices. The CHAs and CHEs together compose the area’s CHWs.

Peace Corps Senegal’s Community Health Project aims to support a reduction in maternal, newborn, and child mortality in Senegal through the increased use of improved community health services by local populations, especially at the household level, focused on remote and underserved areas.

The Community Health Project seeks to:
• Support CHWs to deliver quality health care and prevention services.
• Improve utilization of community health services and uptake of health behaviors, particularly among pregnant women and mothers.
• Promote early care seeking behaviors for common childhood illnesses.

Volunteers work with their Senegalese counterparts - to strengthen their capacities to act as first responders and to support pregnant women/mothers/caretakers - to carry out the following activities:
•Co-organize capacity building activities for CHWs and health systems strengthening activities.
• Co-implement skill building and knowledge acquisition activities with youth, who will then act as informal CHE in their community.
• Co-facilitate educational and awareness raising activities targeting pregnant women, mothers, and caretakers of children under two for the utilization of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services and adoption of recommended health behaviors.

Due to COVID-19, Volunteer activities and work venues may need to change to respond to community needs and agency requirements. Flexibility and adaptability are important for Volunteer service, especially during these unprecedented times.

Peace Corps Senegal includes gender equity and empowerment efforts throughout all our work. You will receive training on gender norms in Senegal. Through this health project, you will work with local partners to empower youth via youth health club activities; increase the involvement of men in MCH activities; and target influential community members to help facilitate the adoption of health behaviors. During your service, you will look for other ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ and women’s sense of agency.

As an actor in the development of Senegal, and part of the wider Peace Corps effort to share our story with our counterparts and host government as well as to bring that story home to the US, you will monitor and report on your work activities throughout your service.

You are not expected to be a health expert, rather your role will be to work with and support local trainers.
Peace Corps training will support you to gain the knowledge and skills needed to work in partnership with your counterpart to implement capacity building and MCH outreach activities. There will undoubtedly be challenges, but you will not be alone. Peace Corps Senegal has an experienced health team ready to provide technical assistance, advice, and feedback.

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

Required Skills (Public Information) :
Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in the health sector and fulfill one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field.

OR

• 5 years professional work experience.

Desired Skills

• Experience and/or interest in maternal and child health
• Experience in public health and positive youth development
• Experience in capacity building through training/coaching
• Experience with community organizing and/or 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).

Candidates with intermediate and higher fluency in French are highly desirable. Candidates speaking other Latin-based/Roman languages who are committed to learning French through self-study are also eligible.

Candidates should note that PC Senegal only teaches local Senegalese languages, not French, as Volunteers need local language to integrate into their host communities and to undertake their work.

Living Conditions

Living Conditions Comments (Public Information) :
Most Peace Corps Senegal Volunteers live with families, however some volunteers will live in in independent housing and will be connected with a resource family. Sharing meals and camaraderie with your host/resource family will help you to understand the culture, enjoy the security of family life and learn the language of your community. Health Volunteers generally live in villages and small towns. When living with a host family, Volunteers have a private room/hut and private latrine/toilet within the family living environment. Volunteers with independent housing will have a basic house or apartment with cooking facilities, toilet and bathing area. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, independent living situations may be utilized in more urban and semi-urban areas.

Many Volunteer homes do not have access to running water or electricity. Water is collected at a community pump or well. Cell phone coverage in Senegal is fairly good and you will have a Peace Corps issued cell phone. Internet is becoming more widely available, although it is still not available everywhere. You may be able to access 4G. Internet coverage is more commonly available in larger towns and cities.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring a laptop for project planning, monitoring and reporting. However, keep in mind that the dust, heat and humidity of Senegal are hard on electronics. It can be very useful to have a laptop and a smart phone, but you may not wish to invest in the most expensive model; cheaper used and/or hardier models may be better options.

Senegalese dishes are tasty, usually consisting of a staple of rice, millet, or corn with vegetable sauces and sometimes with fresh or dried fish. Meat is also available but more of a rarity. There is far less variety than many Americans are accustomed to having. Determined vegetarians are able to make arrangements to maintain their diet, but this usually further decreases variety.

Senegal enjoys a good primary road system, but transportation remains a challenge. You will usually travel in crowded, shared taxis and buses over rough roads, particularly outside of urban areas. You will travel by bike or on foot or donkey cart for shorter trips within your community and to nearby towns or villages. In all cases, Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to observe PC Senegal’s transportation policy.

Senegalese pride themselves on being well dressed. A neat and dignified appearance will say a lot about your desire to be accepted as a colleague. During Pre-Service Training, the dress code is business casual. There is a lot of beautiful cloth available in Senegal, and many Volunteers have clothing made by local tailors. If you are a woman, plan to wear clothing that is not overly tight and that covers you to below the knee. If you are a man, long shorts are acceptable for sports, but otherwise are rarely worn.

Through inclusive recruitment and retention of staff and Volunteers, the Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the United States and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues. Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority may experience curiosity and unwanted attention from Senegalese nationals. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Volunteers are welcomed within the Peace Corps Volunteer and staff community, and many LGBTQ Volunteers have served here successfully.

Senegal 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 former Volunteers will address these topics during pre-service training, and identify potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

Serving in Senegal

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Senegal: 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.

Couples Information

Senegal accepts couples' applications. One partner must qualify for this Community Health Project and the other must qualify for Senegal's Community Economic Development project as a Business Development Service Agent. As part of the COVID-19 prevention measures, married couples live in independent housing and are connected to a resource family. Couples will live together throughout Pre-Service Training as well as throughout Peace Corps service.

Medical Considerations

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


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