Health Extension Volunteer

Before You Apply

You can only have one active Peace Corps Volunteer application, so choose a position that best fits your skills and interest. You have the opportunity to tell us if you’d like to be considered for other openings and more about the ones that interest you most!

Project Description

The purpose of the Peace Corps/Ghana Health project is to support global and national efforts to ensure that all Ghanaians live long, healthy lives. Peace Corps Ghana has four goals under this project; with each goal, community members will adopt healthy behaviors and practices to improve their health:

• Improving maternal and child health;
• Reducing incidences of malaria through community focused prevention methods;
• Improving water, sanitation and hygiene; and
• Increasing knowledge about healthy sexual behaviors to prevent the spread and mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS.

As a Health Volunteer, you will promote positive behavioral changes under some or all four goals, depending on community needs. The intended community mobilization includes action planning, implementation, and capacity building that form the foundations of the project's mostly rural health outreach.

Likewise, Peace Corps Ghana has both semi-structured projects with international and local partners, as well as more traditional Peace Corps postings where an individual will be expected to work exclusively in their community and possibly the surrounding communities with relatively little additional structured support. Both settings provide exciting opportunities for Volunteers to engage their community.

Many Volunteers conduct the following activities:
• Working with health care professionals at the Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS, a small health clinic) facility to:
-better define and promote balanced nutrition among pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and children under the age of five;
-provide malaria education to young people and influential community members so that they will initiate local action aimed at behavior change;
-assist with the organization of village-based immunization and baby-weighing sessions;
• Assisting your community to encourage better use of water and sanitation tools and promoting behavior change, and improving water and sanitation options, such as household latrines, rainwater harvest systems and soak away pits;
• Working with local groups to create or improve existing gardens providing increased sources of nutrition;
• Conducting health education programs, focused on nutrition and disease prevention and directing community members to clinics for treatment (HIV/AIDS, malaria and diarrhea), in schools, out of school youth, and various community groups/settings.

Ghana is one of the Peace Corps countries participating in Let Girls Learn, an important initiative promoting gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Ghana and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of the initiative, you 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
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

• Experience working in any public health endeavor such as nutrition, malaria prevention, HIV/AIDS outreach, reproductive health/sex education, contraception and family planning, counseling, youth outreach, or water and sanitation
• Flexibility to address community needs in structured and unstructured settings
• Positive attitude and willingness to live in a rural community.
• Ability to culturally adapt and integrate into a new setting

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

Additional Language Information

There are over 70 languages spoken in Ghana, but English is the official language. It is possible that you will not be taught the exact language spoken at your site, but rather a related language or a language spoken at the district level instead. Applicants should know that some Volunteers must learn a second local language when living at their site.

Living Conditions

Ghana is one of the friendliest and most peaceful countries in West Africa. Ghana is known for her stable democracy, forward-looking development, beautiful beaches, rich culture, and hospitable people.With different tribes and over 70 languages throughout the ten regions, Ghana is a very diverse country which exists harmoniously.

Volunteers are placed in communities throughout the entire country, except for Greater Accra Region (only third-year Volunteers live there). Volunteers are expected to live at the same socio-economic conditions as the people with whom they serve. That said, Volunteers’ sites vary widely due to a number of factors including geography, and this extends to amenities available at each site (electricity, water), distances to travel, proximity of other PCVs, and general remoteness of sites. Some Volunteers will live in self-contained concrete houses, often attached to a health facility or school, while others will have one or two rooms inside a family compound or a mud hut. Flexibility and a positive attitude will help greatly in overcoming such challenges.

In most cases, Health Extension Volunteers do not have access to running water, but electricity has become more common in rural areas recently but cannot be guaranteed. Some Volunteers will have electricity, while others will not. Communication systems have been steadily improving throughout Ghana, and cell phone reception is available at most sites. The level of reception, clarity and speed of internet (where available) varies greatly throughout the country. Volunteers live and serve in rural, underserved communities anywhere from 2-5 hours from a larger district town. Volunteers use public transportation (buses and minivans called tro-tros) or bicycles as their main mode of transportation.

Pre-Service Training (PST) is a 10-week training that is intended to ensure that Volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for a successful service. PST in Ghana is community-based, meaning that Volunteers will be living with host families, interacting with community members, and they will be immersed in Ghanaian culture to give them a better understanding of their new environment.

Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ) Volunteers have served successfully in Ghana; however, it should be noted Ghana 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 support mechanisms for incoming trainees

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ghana: 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 Ghana

  • Ghana may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: insulin-dependent diabetes; HIV; airway 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: none identified. 
  • After arrival in Ghana, 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.

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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