Youth Health Advisor

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Malawi may soon be known around the world as one of the first countries in Africa to achieve control of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. But currently, youth between the ages of 9-19 remain vulnerable to HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases, and teen pregnancy. Younger children in Malawi, those under the age of five, face the risks of malnutrition, diarrheal diseases, and malaria. Being healthy and disease-free is an important component of a stable and productive life. We invite you to address these critical health issues in Malawi by serving as a Youth Health Advisor.

As a Youth Health Advisor, you will work in a rural health center on a variety of health activities that support children and youth. You will engage youth on HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health programs that are creative, fun, and provide a safe space for youth to discuss ways to keep themselves healthy. Your compassionate approach will help youth to gain the confidence to seek HIV tests and access other services that are beneficial to their health. And, you will also work with people who are HIV+, especially youth, on health strategies through support groups and teen clubs.

Many youth in Malawi may feel intimidated to access important services at their health center. So you will work with the health center staff to analyze and improve services, customer service, and confidentiality to make the health center welcoming and supportive to youth.

In your work as a Youth Health Advisor, you will also work directly with pregnant women as well as mother and fathers of young children to promote essential practices that can keep their children protected from various health threats. You will conduct home visits to help implement and monitor these health measures.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and health centers have minimal resources at their disposal, meaning that your work as a Youth Health Advisor will not come without unique challenges. Your colleagues at the health center will be busy every day with a high volume of patients, so you may dedicate some of your time to supporting them in their daily work of registering patients, weighing babies, and assisting the ARV clinic.

It is a challenging environment, but with a tremendous opportunity to engage youth over a sustained period of time and to watch them grow. The training you receive from Peace Corps combined with your expertise, experiences, and the relationships you build in your community will aid you in being flexible and creative when approaching your work as a Youth Health Advisor. Be prepared to commit yourself to two years of challenging yet highly rewarding work, and take part in the important effort of supporting the health of youth in Malawi.

Required Skills

Qualified applicants will have an expressed interest in working in the health sector and

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

or

• 5 years’ professional work experience

Desired Skills

Previous experience working with or coaching/training health staff and/or facilitating health outreach sessions is desirable. Experience in youth programs, community mobilization, and/or outreach campaigns is preferred. Knowledge and experience working on HIV/AIDS prevention and/or with people living with HIV/AIDS is desirable.

Ideal applicants will have some or all of the following skills:

• Coordinating or implementing individual, group, or community level trainings or interventions

• Hands-on training and facilitation experience

• Monitoring and evaluation experience

• Volunteer coordination, teaching/mentoring, and/or counseling

Required Language Skills

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

During Pre-Service Training, Volunteers will receive training by Malawian language instructors to communicate in the local language used in their assigned community.

Living Conditions

As a Youth Health Advisor, you will be assigned to a rural public health facility. This may be a clinic or a rural hospital. You will work five days a week from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM with health staff both from government and non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, support groups, community members, and others. Community-based work often demands a commitment after-hours and on weekends. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to set an example of excellent workplace values and adopt positive health behaviors. Youth Health Advisors are not permitted to perform any medical services.

Youth Health Advisors typically live in housing provided by the health center. Most of these houses are constructed of bricks with concrete flooring and corrugated metal roofs. Homes are often located on the health center’s compound or nearby in the surrounding community.

Like most rural residences in Malawi, the homes of Peace Corps Volunteers typically do not have electricity or running water. Volunteers utilize candles and solar lamps for lighting, wood/charcoal stoves for cooking, and collect water from a nearby communal pump. Toilets are typically in the form of outdoor latrines, or squat toilets, and bathing is done using a bucket. Mobile phone coverage is available, but spotty in some areas. Basic necessities such as vegetables, grains, and household goods can be purchased in the community or at a nearby market town.

Conditions at the health center will also be lacking, and equipment may be limited or in disrepair. Youth Health Advisors in Malawi are creative and learn to improvise in order to be successful.

Volunteers and staff agree that Peace Corps Volunteers should be encouraged to bring a laptop to Malawi in order to complete required reports and work during their service. Travel in Malawi can be strenuous, involving long bus rides on dirt roads. Peace Corps Volunteers may walk long distances on a regular basis or cycle between villages for their work. Peace Corps can provide a bike to assist with these daily routines.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Malawi: 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 Malawi can accommodate couples. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following positions in Malawi:

- High School English Teacher

or

- Environmental Education and Food Security Educator

Couples have similar living conditions to single Volunteers.

Medical Considerations in Malawi

  • Malawi may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; dermatology; gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; urology; 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 Malawi, 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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