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! See application process

Project Description

The purpose of the Peace Corps/Ghana Health project is to support national efforts to ensure that communities in Ghana lead healthier lives through improved health practices. In support of those efforts, Peace Corps Ghana has three goals under this project:

• Increase the knowledge and skills of community members to improve water, sanitation and hygiene practices and reduce diarrheal diseases;
• Increase the knowledge and skills of youth to improve their health and well-being through health and life skills education; and
• Increase the knowledge and skills of women and caregivers to adopt practices that contribute to healthy pregnancy, healthy newborns and children under 5.

Peace Corps Ghana has both semi-structured projects with international and local partners, as well as more traditional Peace Corps postings where individuals are expected to work exclusively in their community with relatively little structured support. Both settings provide exciting opportunities for Volunteers to promote positive behavioral changes in support of the three goals of the Health project. Action planning, implementation and capacity building form the foundation of the project’s mostly rural health outreach.

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:
o promote balanced nutrition among pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and children under the age of five;
o provide malaria education to young people and influential community members
o 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;
• Co-facilitating SHEP (School Health Education Program ) curriculum in the classroom for school-age youth that provides culturally appropriate comprehensive youth health information;
• Co-facilitating a series of home visits to households to promote essential practices that contribute to a healthy pregnancy, newborn and essential child health practices;
• Co-facilitating a series of pregnant mother group meetings to promote essential practices that contribute to a healthy pregnancy and newborn and child health
• Co-facilitating sessions with fathers or other family members to increase their knowledge of essential pregnancy and newborn practices and their importance in having a healthy pregnancy, newborn and child;
• Working with local groups to create or improve existing gardens providing increased sources of nutrition; and

Peace Corps/Ghana promotes 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 your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

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 diverse country where the different tribes co-exist harmoniously. Hosting visitors is the ultimate expression of Ghanaian culture. Acknowledging the presence of another human being by greeting them, honors their existence. You will be expected to take on this practice. Indeed, your ability to greet and to form relationships will be a significant factor in your success. Especially in the local communities, visitors will be welcomed into families and quickly be made to feel at home.

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.

Ghana is a country with a plethora of local languages. As such, we teach everyone a local language that will be one of the most useful at their permanent site. Nonetheless, Volunteers should know that more than a third of our Volunteers end up acquiring a second local language when living at their site. We use an invitee questionnaire to identify candidates who are adept at learning languages, and oftentimes use that information to place certain candidates in communities where we know that more than one local language is going to be spoken. Be comprehensive on your responses to the invitee questionnaire so that Peace Corps/Ghana can make the best placement for you and your unique set of skills. The invitee questionnaire will be distributed three months before your service begins.

Living Conditions

Volunteers are placed in rural communities throughout the entire country. Volunteers are expected to live at the same socio-economic conditions as the people with whom they serve. Peace Corps/Ghana requires the community to contribute housing that meets the minimum standard of at least one room with a porch/sitting area. Housing is to be adequately ventilated with a roof, a solid floor, walls, access to year-round water supply (via boreholes and wells), latrine, bathing facilities (often a bucket bath), and secure doors and windows. 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, while others will have one or two rooms inside a family compound or teachers’ quarters. Flexibility and a positive attitude will help greatly in overcoming such challenges.

Pre-Service Training (PST) is an 11-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.

The climate of Ghana is tropical, with two main seasons—the dry season from November through March and the rainy season from May through August. It is hot and comparatively dry along the southeast coast. It is hot and humid in the southwest and dry in the north. During the dry season, the Harmattan affects the northern regions with days of continual cool air, haze, and fine dust.

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. Transportation to and from site is primarily via public vehicles, which, depending on the remoteness of the site, can have irregular schedules and may or may not be well maintained. Often, placement requires long hours of travel on rough roads on buses and minivans. Volunteers generally walk or bike in and around their communities.

Ghanaians are very meticulous about their dress in the workplace and wear their good clothes. They are particular about their personal hygiene (a real accomplishment in communities of mud-brick houses and no running water), and cleanliness is a sign of respect. Volunteers are expected to dress and behave accordingly. Personal appearance is important to people in Ghana. During pre-service training, the dress code is business casual. Following pre-service training, you will need to dress appropriately for work situations in your community. Dressing appropriately will help you gain respect in your host community, facilitate integration, and increase your credibility and effectiveness. It is advised to take cues from your Ghanaian colleagues, and dress to their standards of professionalism. Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos may need strategies to conceal them. Likewise, having visible body piercings may make it more difficult to integrate into your host community. Keep in mind that Peace Corps Ghana staff may ask you to be flexible with regard to personal appearance to facilitate integration in training and during your service. Remaining flexible is key to Peace Corps service in any country.

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.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Ghana welcomes couples serving in any combination programs. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following programs:

Business & Agriculture Advising Volunteer
Agriculture Extension Volunteer
Health Extension Volunteer

Couples with one Health Volunteer and one Agriculture Volunteer will be able to reside in the same community and host family during pre-service training (PST), if desired. This arrangement would involve one individual “commuting” to their sector training facility – departing early and using public transportation to arrive on time. There will be a 2 week field-based training for each sector and during that time couples will reside separately.

When both partners are part of the same project (ex. Health Volunteer with Health Volunteer), they will reside together in the same community and host family during pre-service training (PST) and no one will need to “commute” to a separate training location.

During service at your permanent site, couples living conditions are the same as other Volunteers’ but couples will share a house or living quarters.

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 review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.


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