As a Community Health Support Agent, you will take on the urgent task of helping to expand access to community health programs. You will assist Senegalese Community Health Workers by assuming the role of a facilitator, a support person, an organizer, and a motivator for your community’s health outreach. You are not expected to be a health expert, rather your role will be to work with and support local trainers.
The formal health system in Senegal is unable to meet all the health needs of the local population, particularly those living in communities with limited access to clinics and hospitals. Consequently, the Ministry of Health and Social Action (MSAS) is promoting community health as a way to improve access to basic health care and prevention services for the majority of the population. The MSAS created a network of basic health units called health huts, and each health hut is run by two Community Health Agents (CHAs). CHAs are volunteers from the community who have received training to provide basic health care. They are supported by Community Health Educators (CHEs) who are in charge of educating the community on disease prevention and the adoption of healthy practices. The CHAs and CHEs together compose the area’s Community Health Workers (CHWs).
The Community Health Project aims to support a reduction in maternal and child mortality in Senegal. This is a priority for the Government of Senegal and the Peace Corps works alongside other U.S. agencies engaged in ending preventable maternal and child deaths.
The Community Health Project seeks to (1) support CHWs to deliver quality health care and prevention services; and (2) improve utilization of community health services and uptake of healthy behaviors, particularly among pregnant women and mothers.
The Community Health Project uses a two-pronged approach:
• Support CHWs to improve their skills. A set of soft skills have been identified that will strengthen the impact of CHWs.
• Support a cohort of pregnant women and mothers to adopt evidence-based Maternal and Child Health (MCH) behaviors.
Volunteers will work with their Senegalese counterparts to carry out the following activities:
• Organize individual and group capacity building activities for CHWs. Group activities will consist of workshops and trainings, while individual activities will include coaching and mentoring through one-on-one interactions.
• Work in primary or middle schools to create youth health clubs that train students to be informal CHEs and apply their skills in their community.
• Conduct regular home visits to work with a cohort of pregnant women and mothers of under-2-year-olds and ensure their utilization of MCH services and application of recommended health behaviors.
Peace Corps Senegal includes gender equity and empowerment efforts throughout all our work. As such, you will receive training on gender challenges in Senegal and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. Through this health project, you will empower youth via the young relais (community health volunteer) program; increase the involvement of men in Maternal and Child Health activities that used to only target women (men as partners); and target influential community members to help facilitate the adoption of health behaviors (behavior change communication). During your service, you will look for other ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ and women’s sense of agency.
As an actor in the development of Senegal, and a part of the wider Peace Corps effort to share our story with our counterparts and host governments as well as to bring that story home to the U.S., you will monitor and report on your work activities throughout your service.
A background or education in health is not required. Peace Corps training will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to implement capacity building and MCH outreach activities. There will undoubtedly be challenges, but you will not be alone. Peace Corps Senegal has an experienced health team ready to provide technical assistance, advice, and feedback.
Your work will truly make a difference and be critical in saving lives—the lives of mothers who are still dying from childbirth and the lives of children under five who are still dying from preventable diseases. This is a priority for the Government of Senegal and each Community Health Support Agent provides essential assistance.
Health coverage, Housing, Living allowance, Non-competitive eligibility (federal jobs), Stipend, Training
Subject to criminal background check