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Community Health Specialist

Project description

The Health Project contributes to the Uganda Government Ministry of Health strategic plan to address some of the most pressing health needs of the country. Guided by U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Uganda Health Sector Strategic Plan, Community Health Specialists will be expected to contribute primarily to Peace Corps Uganda Health goal of “Ending preventable child deaths and achieving a resilient and healthy generation of youth by 2030."

Volunteers will work with community-based and non-governmental organizations to address four major health project objectives:

1. End preventable childhood (age 0-5) deaths and keep them healthy.

2. Increase the resilience of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS improve their well-being including Orphans and Vulnerable Children, or OVC (age 0-18) and their families.

3. Increase the knowledge and skills of vulnerable youth (age 12-19) to remain HIV-free.
4. Improve community health service providers’ and/or school staff’s skills to address health needs of children and youth.

Volunteers collaborate with community members and their host organizations to identify community needs and implement appropriate activities. Volunteers will play the role of catalyst for a wide range of activities guided by the health project framework.

Volunteer primary activities include, but are not limited to:
1. Promote Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health
Formation and facilitation of a series of Care Groups interventions with leader mothers/fathers to promote essential maternal and child health best practices including malaria prevention, immunization, water sanitation and hygiene, and child nutrition.

2. Support Orphans and other vulnerable Children (OVC) 0 – 17 years
• Co-facilitate groups for OVC and their caregivers with evidence-based interventions and training in nutrition education, psychosocial support, economic strengthening, life skills, HIV positive living, and linkages to health or social services.
• Co-facilitate sessions with subject experts on HIV prevention, life skills and mentorship, stigma and discrimination reduction.

3. Youth and HIV
• Formation and facilitation of youths’ sexual reproductive health and other related health interventions including menstrual hygiene, HIV prevention education, and referral to HIV testing services and community linkages.
• Co-facilitate HIV prevention evidence-based activities for health, targeting in and out-of-school youth in partnership with Grassroots Soccer.

4. Capacity Building
• Conduct training to improve skills of community health service providers and/or school staff to improve on essential health care to the targeted populations.
• Coach and/or mentor community health service providers and/or school staff to improve their skills in essential elements of youth friendly and gender equitable health services.
• Community mobilization and sensitization for uptake of
health services and early health seeking behaviors.
• Community-level health training and education for social and behavior change.

Peace Corps Uganda promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. For all the technical activities, Volunteers design interventions with a “gender lens.” Volunteers receive training on gender challenges and can implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. As part of their work, Volunteers will also report on these efforts and their impact every quarter. Volunteers invited to this project are expected to work as professionals and will be periodically evaluated as such.

Following the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, health volunteers shall contribute to the global fight against COVID-19 by leveraging its unique structure and reach to complement interagency and host country efforts to accelerate widespread and equitable access to and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations.

Required skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Master of Public Health degree or Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Health
• Certified Physician Assistant or Public Health Nurse with expressed interest in public/community health
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition, Health, or Nursing

Desired skills

The most successful candidates will have a background or experience in one of the following:

• Community mobilization and sensitization on behavior change activities.
• Small groups formation and facilitation skills.
• Planning, organizational, interpersonal and communication skills.
• Working with children aged 0-17 or youth aged 12-19 and above.
• HIV prevention, care and support for children, youth, and adults infected or affected by HIV.
• Basics of working with children.
• Basics in maternal and child health promotion activities.
• Designing various behavior change health interventions that aim at promoting positive healthy practices among individuals and communities.
• Designing integrated health activities including COVID- 19 prevention interventions and work with communities to increase demand creation for COVID-19 vaccination.

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Trainees will receive 120 hours of training in the local language used in their assigned community. Each Trainee must attain an Intermediate-Low rating on the Language Proficiency Interview (LPI) before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Structured instruction and extended tutoring among other accommodations are in place to support each Trainee achieve the language proficiency needed for community integration and effective work. It is important to note that each of the identified activities will require some level of language. Volunteers are therefore required to continue to improve their language skills throughout the course of their service. The set Benchmark at Close of Service is Advanced-Low rating, and the Benchmark at Mid-Service Training will be established and communicated accordingly.

Living conditions

Volunteers usually live in a rural or semi-urban community in accommodations provided by the host organization or a homestay. Housing conditions vary according to organization resources, though it meets Peace Corps’ housing standards with basic furnishings that may be supplemented with a modest settling-in allowance provided by Peace Corps. Most Volunteers living in rural areas are likely to have no running water and electricity, use a lantern or solar lamp for lighting and a stove for cooking. Outdoor bathing areas and pit latrines are likely in rural areas.

In addition to staying at the training center, trainees will also stay with host families for four weeks during Pre-Service Training (PST). Trainees will be provided with a room in the host family accommodation. The homestay accommodation provides an opportunity for Volunteers learn about the cultural norms in Uganda. The last week of PST will be spent in a designated hotel attending supervisor workshop, final PST assessment and preparation for swearing in ceremony. In addition, some Volunteers will also live with homestay families during their two years in their community.

Cell phone service is available across the country. Wi-Fi and internet are not common in rural areas and unreliable, if available. Cyber cafes and internet connectivity are available within urban areas. USB modems and smart phones are available for purchase and can be used for internet access in some places. Mail and post generally take a long time, but Volunteers can readily communicate through smart phones. Volunteers are encouraged to bring a laptop which will enable them to complete assignments offline and upload them later. Please note that tablets and smart phones are not an effective alternative.

Volunteers could be a 2-3 hours’ drive from another Volunteer in some areas, while others are much closer to each other. In their communities, Volunteers will get around by walking, riding a bicycle for about 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) round trip, or using local transportation. Public transportation is available near most communities and allows for transit to and from the nearest urban areas or trading centers. Volunteers are provided funds to buy a local bicycle. Many of the community members also use this mode of transportation. Due to safety risks, Peace Corps Uganda prohibits the use of public motorcycle taxis by Volunteers.

Uganda is a very conservative culture and Volunteers are often heavily scrutinized. Living and working productively in Uganda means being able to adjust to different cultural norms, as that can deeply impact successful community integration and credibility. Ugandans are welcoming and open when they feel mutual respect and understanding.

Peace Corps Uganda provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers of various faiths, identities, and sexual orientations, etc. It is important to note that Uganda has restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers 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 country. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State's travel page for more information on Ugandan laws https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/uganda.html

Peace Corps supports Volunteers as they adjust and adapt to their new cultural and physical environment. Volunteers find great satisfaction in their work, build meaningful friendships with host country nationals, and feel rewarded by their service.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Uganda: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Peace Corps Uganda accepts couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following positions:
• Agribusiness Specialist
• Business Development Advisor
• Early Childhood Literacy Teacher

Couples will live within the same host family and community during Pre-Service Training (PST) but will be separated for certain technical trainings throughout PST depending on need.

During service, couples expect to periodically attend project-specific trainings, medical appointments, committee meetings, and other programming meetings separately as needed.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

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