Public Health Educator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Peace Corps has a long and rich history in Guinea. The first Volunteers arrived in Guinea in 1963 and they have been working in the Health sector since 1990. Your work as a Public Health Educator will empower health care workers, individuals and communities to reduce maternal, neonatal and child morbidity and mortality.

Public Health Educators are assigned to communities in or near rural health centers. As a Volunteer, you will form strong collaborative partnerships with community members to provide training on preventative maternal and child health through home visits, the development of health care workers, and the promotion of the use of health facilities.

The Public Health program focuses on the following areas:

1) Improved maternal, neonatal and child health care. This includes training on healthy behaviors during pregnancy, essential newborn care, and family planning and/or birth planning. In collaboration with a Community Health worker, Volunteers establish and train CARE Groups. The members of these groups conduct regular home visits to households with pregnant women and mothers with children under the age of two.

2) Improved infant and child nutrition. Volunteers conduct training on breastfeeding and complementary feeding and hygiene. They also provide counseling to mothers and caregivers on essential nutrition actions.

3) Prevention of child mortality through early intervention and treatment of common childhood illnesses and other infectious diseases. Volunteers provide training in prevention and on recognizing the signs and symptoms of communicable diseases such as Malaria, HIV/AIDS, diarrhea, and pneumonia, as well as promoting timely vaccinations for infants.

4) Building the capacity of health service providers in your community. Volunteers mobilize community members to support mother and child health and nutrition.

Volunteers will also have the opportunity to pursue secondary projects, based on the needs and resources available in your community. Cross-sector collaboration with Agroforestry and Education Volunteers is encouraged. Examples of past projects include improving nutrition via home or school gardening and formal school presentations on health topics such as reproductive health or malaria.

Peace Corps Guinea promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in your country 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. Part of your work in this area will include reporting on your 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

• Familiarity with health work, particularly maternal and child health
• Experience working in any public health endeavor such as HIV/AIDS outreach, sex education, contraception and family planning, counseling, youth outreach
• Desire to work at the community/rural level to meet the communities’ health needs
• Demonstrated leadership experience or experience in community organizing
• French language proficiency or strong willingness to learn French

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Public Health Educators will be trained to speak a local language based on their assignment and will be provided with an introduction to French to assist them in getting around outside of their community. It is highly recommended that invitees take an intensive French course before departing the US. Between 10-20 hours of French and 100 plus hours of a local language will be taught during Pre-Service Training. Optional French tutoring will be offered two nights per week in the second half of the training.

Living Conditions

Public Health Educators are assigned to serve in small villages near health centers or partner organizations; these villages can range in size from several hundred to several thousand inhabitants. The size and style of housing varies depending on the region and resources available. Peace Corps works with communities to prepare housing that is safe and secure, near a source of water, and within walking distance to a market and shops. Houses are typically modest, consisting of one to three room structures or round huts with thatched roofs. Many are situated within a family compound and most houses do not have electricity or running water. Some houses have inside toilet and shower areas but most are equipped with a private pit latrine and enclosed bathing area.

Cell phone service is improving. Phones work in almost all areas of the country, but internet access can be limited at the village level. The three regional offices are equipped with computers with internet access.

Personal appearance is important to people in Guinea. During pre-service training, the dress code is business casual. Following pre-service training, Volunteers will need to dress appropriately for work situations in their community. Dressing appropriately will help Volunteers gain respect in their host community, facilitate integration, and increase their credibility and effectiveness. It is advised to take cues from Volunteers’ Guinean colleagues.

Volunteers are provided funds to purchase bikes for transport should they choose to do so. Almost all work places are within walking distance, so it is NOT required to be able to ride a bike. For long distances, Volunteers rely on bikes or public transportation in small passenger vehicles.

Rice, maize, cassava or a local grain “fonio” is eaten for most main meals, along with spinach, peanut and/or tomato based sauce with vegetables, meat or fish. Fruits such as mangoes, avocado, pineapples, papaya, oranges, and limes are available seasonally.

While people in Guinea may be generally tolerant, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in some parts of the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms, and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach 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.

During your two years in Guinea, you will develop social and working relationships with a variety of people, become familiar with local expectations and customs, develop an appreciation of local foods, struggle with local languages, and learn to live and work with necessities rather than comforts.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guinea: 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

Your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:
• Agroforestry Volunteer

Couples will likely be separated during the nine weeks of Pre-Service Training and live with different host families. Once at site, couples will share a home that meets the same standards for all Volunteers. There will be times during service when couples will spend days and nights apart, such as when one is attending a meeting, routine medical appointments, etc.

Medical Considerations in Guinea

  • Guinea may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: insulin-dependent diabetes; dermatology; some types of gynecologic support; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizures; 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: peanuts.
  • After arrival in Guinea, 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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