Public Health Educator

Project Description

The Peace Corps has a rich and diverse history in Guinea. The first Volunteers arrived in Guinea in 1963, and the Public Health (PH) program was launched in 1990. The program was renewed in 2011 to broaden its scope and bolster efforts to improve maternal and child health in Guinea.

Public Health Educator Volunteers work with the Community Health Workers (CHWs), nurses, midwives, youth, caregivers, pregnant mothers, fathers, and others who are involved in promoting the health of young children and mothers. The priority of the PH program is to collaboratively increase the knowledge and skills of communities to improve maternal and child health in Guinea. Priority areas include:

• Family planning and gender equity
• Sexual and reproductive health
• Prevention of transmissible diseases (including malaria and pneumonia)
• Promoting COVID vaccination campaign at the community level
• Pre/postnatal healthcare for pregnant mothers and newborn children
• Nutrition

You will work alongside local healthcare workers, community members, and other stakeholders to reduce maternal, neonatal, and child morbidity and mortality. Volunteers support the development of projects and initiatives for community members in need of this information and training. Some project topics include:

• Healthcare for young and pregnant women
• Breastfeeding up to 6 months
• Prevention of transmissible diseases from pneumonia and malaria to sexually transmissible infections
• Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)
• Reproductive health and family planning among youth and families,
• Home gardening for nutrition and food security and good nutrition accompanied by the preparation of balanced diets and more.

Public Health Educators live in communities that are located near rural health centers/posts and within a reasonable distance from a health center. One of the primary goals for Volunteers is to encourage the use of local healthcare facilities by community members. As a Volunteer, you will form strong collaborative partnerships with community members to provide information and co-facilitate sessions on health issues ultimately related to preventative maternal and child health. This can be done through individual home visits, group meetings, working with a youth group, and/or school presentations.

Public Health Educators will also have the opportunity to pursue secondary projects based on the needs and resources available in their community. Cross-sector collaboration with Agriculture Volunteers is highly encouraged, particularly in the area of Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture. This includes teaching gardening skills and encouraging local preparation and consumption of nutrition-rich vegetables that are not commonly eaten in the community. Collaboration with Education Volunteers is also encouraged, as school garden projects, youth groups, and classes are great venues for outreach on a variety of public health topics (e.g., sexual and reproductive health, 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.

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 applicants 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

Additionally, Guinea strongly prefers its Volunteers have one or more of the following criteria:

• College level course work related to Public Health including: Anatomy, Anthropology, Sociology, Social Work, Public Health, Physiology, Biochemistry, Nutrition, Community Health, and Environmental Health.

• Professional work experience in programs related to Public Health, Community Health, or Social Services.

• Experience or expressed interest in health work, particularly maternal and child health.

• Any volunteer or work experience in Public Health related endeavors such as HIV/AIDS outreach, sex education, contraception and family planning, counseling, youth outreach, and community health programs.

Required Language Skills

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

Volunteers will be taught to speak French until they reach the level of high novice before switching to the appropriate local language of their work site community.

Susu will be the predominant language, with some sites speaking Fula or Pular and Maninka.

Invitees are encouraged to take a French course prior to service and to continue with tutoring during Pre-Service Training and afterward once at site. Volunteers are provided with a monthly allowance for tutoring.

Living Conditions

In an effort to address COVID-19 and take safety measures, Volunteers are assigned to rural villages located within a drive from Conakry. These villages can range in size from several hundred to a few thousand people. The villagers will be educated about COVID-19 and the preventative precautions that the Peace Corps has mandated prior to your arrival.

The Peace Corps works with communities to prepare housing and ensure that it is safe and secure, near a source of water, accessible to a market, and within walking distance of clear cell phone reception. Extra precautions will be taken to assure that host families and Volunteers have the appropriate understanding and space for social distancing, along with identified locations for isolation in the case of any detection of COVID-19.

Houses are typically simple round huts with one to three room structures, with either metal or thatched roofs. Many are situated within a family compound and, in consideration of COVID, will be situated at a distance from the other houses. Most Volunteer houses do not have electricity or running water. Houses may have inside toilet and shower areas, but most have a nearby or attached access to a private pit latrine and bathing area.

Cell phone services improve each year, but fluctuate by location. Phones work in almost all areas of the country, but internet access can be limited at the village level. It is recommended that Volunteers bring their own laptop for use at site or at the regional office. Regional offices are also equipped with computers with internet access, but to respect COVID safety considerations, guidelines for proper use will be provided.

Personal appearance is important to the people of Guinea. During Pre-Service Training (PST), the standard professional dress code is business casual. Following PST, when you are placed in the community, you will need to dress appropriately for socializing in the community and for working. Respecting Guinean culture and tradition by dressing appropriately helps you gain respect in your host community. It will also facilitate integration and increase your credibility and effectiveness.

Volunteers are provided bikes for transport should they choose, However, many volunteer sites are within walking distance. For longer distances, Volunteers use small passenger vehicles to go into the regional capital or to gain access to public transportation.

At most main meals, rice, maize, cassava, or a local grain called “fonio” are eaten, along with leaves (like spinach, cassava, and potato leaves), with a peanut or tomato-based sauce served with vegetables, meat, or fish. Fruits such as mangoes, avocados, pineapples, papayas, oranges, and limes are available seasonally. Vegetables are not as common, and those that are, are usually cooked into sauces. One of your goals is to work with community members to highlight the importance of eating these vegetables in new ways.

Though people in Guinea are generally tolerant, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity are well defined and there are restrictive laws that target certain sexual behaviors. 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 other currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during PST and identify some potential support mechanisms for incoming Trainees.

During your service, you will have an incredible experience that will have many challenges, but will undoubtedly bring incredible rewards as you develop social and working relationships with a variety of people, learn to communicate in local languages, develop an understanding of local expectations and customs, along with an appreciation of local foods, and learn to live and work in Guinea, where the concepts of comfort and necessity get redefined.

Serving in Guinea

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guinea: 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

Your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:

• Agriculture Volunteer

Couples will likely be separated during the ten weeks of Pre-Service Training (PST) and live in different dormitory or host family accommodations. 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 specialized in-service training, a committee meeting, routine medical appointments, etc.

Medical Considerations

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

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