The Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015 in Liberia overwhelmed the health system and highlighted the unmet need for a network of health workers covering the most remote communities. With the strategic support of partners, Liberia has restructured and continues rebuilding its health sector, emphasizing maternal and child mortality reduction. The new national community health plan establishes a cadre of health extension workers explicitly tasked with providing essential health services to the approximately 30% of the population living five kilometers or farther from a health facility. Peace Corps, which is widely known and respected throughout Liberia, is well-positioned to play a meaningful role in this effort.
In light of the new National Community Health Services Program, Peace Corps Liberia has launched a new Community Health project. In this project, health Volunteers work closely with their community counterparts and health assistants to build the capacity of local service providers and improve health practices at a household level, with the ultimate goal of improving child and maternal health throughout the country.
Volunteers’ primary work is to support local service providers by:
• Enforcing foundational soft skills that support behavior change through formal and informal trainings, mentoring, and modeling
• Monitoring and data utilization skills to track and report on diseases, vaccination rates, etc.
Additionally, Volunteers and their counterparts will directly support households with pregnant women by:
• Providing health education
• Counseling and negotiating behavior change
• Actively linking households with health services
Volunteers will work with and support these households from pregnancy through the child’s first year of life to assist with:
• Encouraging positive health practices during mothers’ pregnancy
• Developing birth plans
• Promoting breastfeeding and immunizations
• Educating on child nutrition and childhood illness prevention
Peace Corps and Liberia have a long history of working together and while Volunteers will be focused on doing a lot of the activities above they will also be developing relationships with their community. They will be picking mangos with neighbors, learning to make cassava gravy with host mothers, chasing host siblings around the compound, and getting clothes made out of the traditional “lappa”. They will share stories with friends and make life long relationships with some of the most welcoming people.
Peace Corps/Liberia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Liberia 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. As part of the initiative, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.
Health coverage, Housing, Living allowance, Non-competitive eligibility (federal jobs), Stipend, Training
Subject to criminal background check