Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Assignment

Here's a not-so-brief overview of my Peace Corps Assignment Country: Uganda Program: Community Wellbeing/Positive Living Program Job Title: Community Health Volunteer Dates of Service: May 2006-May 2008* Orientation Dates: March 8-10, 2006* Pre-Service Training (in Uganda): March 11-May 20, 2006* *dates subject to change History of the Program Uganda has achieved some success in maintaining sustained economic growth over the past 10-15 years. Despite this growth, critical challenges remain, particularly in the health sector. For example, over 60% of the population is without access to clean drinking water, 55% of the population live on less than $1 per day, and in some areas, there are as many as 27,000 people per doctor. Malaria and tuberculosis are major problems and childhood immunizations are complete for less than 2% of children. Underlying all this data is the widespread prevalence of individuals and families living with HIV and the AIDS virus. The good news is that with support from the government, and joint commitments by non-governmental organizations, churches, and donor agencies, Uganda became the first African country to reduce its HIV infection rate, from 30% at the pandemic's peak in 1992 to 10-12 % in 1998. (Don't be too WOWed by these facts. In random samplings it has been discovered that closer to 45% of the population are living with HIV/AIDS. I have heard from other PCVs that it is a popular thing in Africa to claim to be the First or the Best at something, thus sounding like the AIDS epidemic has been thwarted, when in fact it may be government propaganda!) Local community-based organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been initiated in recent years to provide information and to implement projects which provide support to people, families, and communities living with HIV and AIDS. These small, indigenous organizations are some of the hosts which have requested a PCV program to assist them. They envision Volunteers as counterparts who would live with them, and help them in their efforts to, for example, coordinate community and school health education, with particular focus on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention; develop gardening and nutrition education programs for foster parents; work with Ugandan colleagues to implement clean water and sanitation programs; assist small community organizations with management skills and planning for the future; add initiatives to immunization programs and other maternal and child health activities; add creative new ideas to the operations of the organizations. In addition, the Ministry of Health has requested the assistance of PCVs in training their community health providers. Volunteers will work in association with rurally based Ministry of Health training institutes and with the local communities to develop demonstration sites and to provide practical hands-on adult education for Community Health Workers. Primary Duties Uganda's Ministry of Health and community-based health service organizations are asking for Volunteers t help them with applying what they have learned about improving living conditions for poor families in rural areas. Train trainers from government and community-based organizations (CBOs) so that they can improve their skills to plan and implement participator educational programs for health workers in their communities. Emphasize new accurate information and improved methods of teaching nutrition, preventive health care, behavior modification, management of HIV/AIDS , basic sanitation, and reproductive health education. Work with administrators to improve their organizational management skills by developing systems for planning, funding, designing, managing, and evaluation community health projects. Work with communities to identify their resources and develop and manage appropriate community activities. All Volunteers in the health sector will be expected to focus on HIV/AIDS. You will design and teach workshops aimed at increasing awareness. You may collaborate with the education Volunteers and develop adult education skills to help you plan high quality health programs. Volunteers in the education sector will be looking to you for accurate information as they design workshops for school-based health education programs for youths. You may also be asked to identify community resources and help communities see how they can address their own needs and interests. You will be expected to teach counterparts how to design, manage, and evaluate health projects. Ugandan co-workers who are trainers will be looking for assistance to develop better skills for teaching adults and for developing teaching methods that encourage people to practice what they learn. Emphasis may be placed on demonstrating what you teach by developing and using models, kits, and other participatory teaching methods. If your background is in maternal/child health education, you may work with traditional birth attendants and midwives to plan and teach reproductive health and child care workshops that encourage good nutrition, breast feeding, and immunization. If your background is in nutrition, you may be involved with planning, planting and managing community model gardens and exploring best methods for preparing, processing and preserving food. Many community members will need help in understanding the nutritional needs of children and pregnant women, local and inexpensive sources of nutritionally rich foods, infant care, malnutrition and its impact, nutritional contributions to addressing illnesses, and specific nutritional strategies for positive living. If your background is in water/sanitation, you will very likely find yourself engaging in hands-on work of building improved pit latrines, protecting springs and other water sources, constructing water tanks, and water harvesting systems. Water and sanitation topics will include environmental hygiene, water and waste management, water purification, waste disposal and recycling.


At 24 January, 2006, Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.


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