Difference between pages "Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Albania" and "Health care and safety in Bolivia"

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In fulfilling the Peace Corps’ mandate to share the face of America with our host countries, we are making special efforts to see that all of America’s richness is reflected in the Peace Corps. More Americans of color are serving in today’s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps’ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other despite our many differences.
 
  
Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Albania, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Albania.
 
  
Outside of Albania’s capital and a few larger regional towns, residents of smaller towns and rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes.  Albanians are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community where you live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
 
  
To ease the transition and adapt to life in Albania, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers will not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitationsThe Peace Corps staff members will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.  
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The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. Peace Corps/Bolivia maintains a clinic in the Cochabamba office with a full-time and several part-time medical officers who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as <span class="plainlinks">[http://goo.gl/qkYud<span style="color:black;font-weight:normal; text-decoration:none!important; background:none!important; text-decoration:none;">century 21 broker properti jual beli sewa rumah Indonesia</span>] testing and basic treatment, are also available in Bolivia at local, American-standard laboratories, clinics, and hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to the closest American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.  
  
===Overview of Diversity in Albania===
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===Health Issues in Bolivia===
Peace Corps staff in Albania recognizes that adjustment issues come with diversity and will endeavor to provide support and guidance. During pre-service training, we will offer several sessions to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms for dealing with unwanted attention. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of races, ethnic groups, ages, religions, and sexual orientations, and hope that you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.
 
  
===What Might a Volunteer Face?===
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Altitude sickness, malaria, leishmaniasis, Chagas’ disease, infectious diarrhea, tuberculosis, and hepatitis are among the diseases that commonly occur in the Bolivian population. Preparing for and adjusting to altitude is discussed in detail at the end of this section.  
====Possible Issues for Female Volunteers====
 
Gender stereotypes are much more evident and accepted in Albania than in the United States. By tradition, women are expected to cook and to look after the needs of their husbands and children even if they work outside the home.  
 
  
Albanian women lead much more restrictive lives than American women do. Women do not go out alone at night, and jogging or walking alone for exercise is uncommonOutside of downtown Tirana and in the larger city centers, women almost never smoke or drink alcohol in public. Young women are sometimes verbally harassed by groups of men in the streets, and looking foreign or walking alone on the street will heighten the likelihood that harassment will occur.  Your adjustment to Albanian customs will be difficult and frustrating at times, but you must modify your behavior to avoid compromising yourself and your host family.  
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Because malaria is endemic in some areas of Bolivia, taking an antimalarial medication and sleeping inside a mosquito net are mandatory for Volunteers assigned to those regionsLeishmaniasis, a parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of some species of sand flies, can be prevented by wearing protective clothing and insect repellent and avoiding the outdoors when sand flies are most active (dusk to dawn). Chagas’ disease, which is transmitted via the bite of a reduviid bug, is also endemic in many areas of Bolivia. This disease can also be prevented by sleeping in a mosquito net (provided by Peace Corps) and by living in a house with well-plastered walls and screened doors and windows.  
  
====Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color====
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Following instructions to ensure that your food and water are fresh and cleaned appropriately will help you avoid stomach bacteria and intestinal parasites. You may also be exposed to colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses. Taking standard precautions (e.g., washing your hands frequently, taking the provided vitamins, etc.) will reduce your risk of becoming ill.  
There are very few people of color in Albania, and many Albanians have never met anyone of color. Some older Albanians may have met Chinese technicians and workers in the 1960s and 1970s, when Albania was aligned with China.  They may have unpleasant memories from that period.  Although there are currently foreigners from a variety of countries and races in Tirana, there are very few people of color in the smaller towns and rural communities. Many Albanians will not know what to make of a person of color who calls herself/himself an American. If you are of African, Hispanic, or Asian descent, you will probably be the only such person in your community and might be the only such person within the group of Volunteers in Albania. There may be no role models for you among the Peace Corps staff.  
 
  
You may encounter varying degrees of harassment in your
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===Altitude Sickness===
day-to-day life because of ignorance, stereotyped cultural
 
perceptions, or Albania’s historical involvement with certain
 
countries. You may be evaluated as less professionally
 
competent than a white Volunteer. You may be stared at,
 
pointed to, and commented on. You may hear comments
 
that would be considered completely inappropriate in the
 
United States. Children and teenage boys can be particularly
 
insensitive and hurl comments or even rocks. In those
 
situations, your greatest support will be your host family and
 
local counterparts—people with whom you have established
 
strong relationships—who consider you a friend. They will
 
introduce you to others in the community and intervene
 
with children and others who may bother you. You will have to learn to live with a constant level of attention that you’ve never had to face before. It can be very difficult.
 
  
====Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers====
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Approximately 25 percent of people arriving in La Paz or other high-altitude locations experience an unpleasant period of acclimatization that may persist for a few days. Symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, nausea, vomiting, respiratory distress, and insomnia. Although there seems to be a genetic predisposition to altitude sickness, it is not possible to tell in advance who will have problems.  Those <span class="plainlinks">[http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/April_1985<span style="color:black;font-weight:normal; text-decoration:none!important;  background:none!important; text-decoration:none;">century 21 broker properti jual beli sewa rumah Indonesia</span>] who have had previous difficulties are likely to have similar problems each time they go to altitudes above 8,000 to 10,000 feet. Those with preexisting medical problems or respiratory infections such as colds, bronchitis, or pneumonia should delay travel until they are fully recovered. Individuals with hypertension, diabetes, angina pectoris, asthma, or emphysema should see a physician for clearance prior to visiting high altitudes. La Paz is at almost 12,000 feet, while Cochabamba, site of the training center and Peace Corps office, is at 8,000 feet.  
Respect comes with age in Albania. Younger Volunteers may have to work harder than their older colleagues to be accepted as professionals. There are situations that senior Volunteers will find challenging, however. Younger counterparts at your assigned organization may feel that the Peace Corps let them down by not assigning them a younger and presumably more energetic, eager Volunteer. It may take some time for them to see that age has nothing to do with energy or eagerness. Older people in Albania generally are less active than older people in the United States, and your Albanian friends may assume that you would rather stay home than socialize. You may also feel isolated within the Peace Corps community because the majority of other Volunteers are likely to be in their 20s.  
 
  
====Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers ====
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There are two approaches to minimizing the unpleasant symptoms of altitude sickness: taking prophylaxis prior to arrival and treating symptoms after arrival. The health unit at the U.S. embassy in La Paz recommends that adults take 125 milligrams of the prescription drug Diamox (acetazolamide) by mouth twice a day for two days prior to travel, on the day of flight, and for three days after arrival. (Diamox is not recommended if you are allergic to sulfa drugs.)
On whole, Albanian society is homophobic, but some are open to the idea of different sexual orientations. This perspective is mostly divided between generations. The older generations are more closed to differences in general. The younger generations have a growing interest in LGBT issues and ideas. Since March of 2009, there has been and active and ever growing LGBT community, mostly located within Tirana. The LGBT community is fighting for a freer, more open Albanian society and a place within the population at large. There are currently two active LGBT NGO's working in Tirana. The LGBT community is welcoming of foreigners and especially of Peace Corps Volunteers.
 
  
====Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers====
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Whether or not you take Diamox prior to traveling to Bolivia, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent or treat altitude sickness after your arrival:
Albanians’ religion generally varies by location. Some areas of the country have more Muslims, some have more Albanian Orthodox people, and some have more Roman Catholics.  Though Albania is sometimes characterized as 70 percent Muslim, this refers more to heritage than to religious beliefs and practices. Most Albanians identify with one of the three religions because of family history, but tend to be non-practicing members. All religions are fairly well tolerated in Albania, and practicing your religion is not likely to be an issue. The Peace Corps forbids Volunteers from proselytizing or participating in other religious activities that could impair their effectiveness as Volunteers.
 
 
====Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities ====
 
As a disabled Volunteer in Albania, you will face a special set
 
of challenges. People with disabilities are often kept out of
 
public view in Albania, and there is very little infrastructure
 
to accommodate those with disabilities. There are no ramps
 
in public places, and roads and sidewalks are uneven or
 
otherwise in poor condition. Traffic throughout the country
 
is chaotic. Nevertheless, the Peace Corps Office of Medical
 
Services determined that you were physically and emotionally
 
capable of performing a full tour of Volunteer service in
 
Albania without unreasonable risk to yourself or interruption
 
of your service. Peace Corps/Albania will work with disabled
 
Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations in training, housing, and job sites to enable them to serve safely and effectively.
 
  
====Possible Issues for Married Volunteers====
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# Drink plenty of fluids. You need considerably more fluids than your normal intake. Avoid alcoholic drinks initially, and drink only in moderation after several days. Limit carbonated drinks, or allow them to go flat before drinking them. Limit mineral water because of the high salt content. Gatorade can be very helpful, since it provides fluid and electrolytes.
Married couples in different sectors may be required to live separately during their pre-service training. If you do live separately, it will be a matter of logistical necessity based on the design of the training program. It is not intended to unfairly burden married couples. Reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate proximity and visitation concerns. All married couples will live together following pre-service training, when they move to their permanent sites as Volunteers.  
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# Reduce food intake. Frequent small, light meals are best. Physicians in Bolivia recommend increasing carbohydrate intake (e.g., pasta and potatoes) and eating desserts or candy.
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# Limit your activities. Although you should avoid overexertion, the frequently given advice to lie down during the initial hours at high altitude can actually increase a headache if overdone. Athletic adults are more likely to develop serious complications, so avoid intense physical activity until you are well adapted. 
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# Use recommended medications if necessary. Other than Diamox, acetaminophen or aspirin (two tablets every four hours) taken with a full glass of water is the best medicine for an altitude headache. Avoid other medications for what is commonly known as “soroche,” such as Coramine, Micoren, or diuretics other than Diamox. They can increase symptoms or even be dangerous. Coca tea cannot be used in any form for altitude sickness or for rehydration.  
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# It is unlikely that you will need oxygen, but if you experience shortness of breath or a severe headache, inform the Peace Corps medical officer or any staff member immediately.  
  
Married couples may face challenges stemming from traditional Albanian gender roles. A married female Volunteer may find herself the object of gossip among older Albanian women, who may wonder whether she is taking proper care of her husband, can cook and preserve enough vegetables for the winter, or spends too much time with other men. While the wife may be expected to do all the domestic chores, the husband may be expected to assume an overtly dominant role in the household. In addition, the independence exercised by each member of an American couple may be perceived as immoral behavior. Still, married couples are serving effectively in Albania without having to make unreasonable compromises.
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===Helping You Stay Healthy===
  
[[Category:Albania]]
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The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy.  Upon your arrival in Bolivia, you will receive a medical handbook. At the end of training, you will receive a medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter.
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During pre-service training, you will have access to basic medical supplies through the training center medical officer.  However, you will be responsible for your own supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as the Peace Corps will not order these items during training. Please bring a three-month supply of any prescription drugs you use, since they may not be available here and it may take several months for shipments to arrive.  Also, please try to switch to generic forms of any medications you take before coming to Bolivia.
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You will have physicals midway through your service and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer in Bolivia will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Bolivia, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.
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===Maintaining Your Health===
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As a Volunteer, you must accept a certain amount of responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury.  The adage “An ounce of prevention ...” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. Your most important responsibility in Bolivia is to take preventive measures to avoid altitude sickness, malaria, leishmaniasis, Chagas’ disease, food- and waterborne intestinal disorders, respiratory illnesses, alcohol- and drug-related problems, STDs, skin disorders, minor injuries, and sunburn and heatstroke.
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 +
Many illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken.  These include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, dysentery, tapeworms, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation in Bolivia during pre-service training.
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 +
Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV and other STDs. You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To lessen the risk, use a condom every time you have sex. Whether your partner is a host country citizen, a fellow Volunteer, or anyone else, do not assume this person is free of HIV/AIDS or other STDs. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue.
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Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Your medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available without charge from the medical officer.
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It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office or other designated facility for scheduled immunizations and that you let your medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.
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===Women’s Health Information===
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Pregnancy is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions that require medical attention but also have programmatic ramifications. The Peace Corps is responsible for determining the medical risk and the availability of appropriate medical care if the Volunteer remains in-country.  Given the circumstances under which Volunteers live and work in Peace Corps countries, it is rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met.
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If feminine hygiene products are not available for you to purchase at your site or the closest departmental capital, the Peace Corps medical officer in Bolivia will provide them. If you require a specific feminine hygiene product, please bring a three-month supply with you.
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===Your Peace Corps Medical Kit===
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 +
The Peace Corps medical officer provides Volunteers with a medical kit that contains basic items necessary to prevent and treat illnesses that may occur during service. Kit items can be periodically restocked at the medical office.
 +
 
 +
====Medical Kit Contents====
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Ace bandages <br>
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Adhesive tape  <br>
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Antacid tablets  <br>
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Antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B)  <br>
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Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens)  <br>
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Band-Aids  <br>
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Calamine lotion  <br>
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Cough suppresant tablets  <br>
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Condoms  <br>
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Dental floss  <br>
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Diphenhydramine HCL 25&nbsp;mg (Benadryl)  <br>
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American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook  <br>
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Eye wash  <br>
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Gauze pads  <br>
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Hydrocortisone Cream  <br>
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Ibuprofren 200&nbsp;mg. tablets  <br>
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Insect repellent  <br>
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Iodine tablets (for water purification)  <br>
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Latex gloves  <br>
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Lip moisturizer with SPF 15  <br>
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Oral rehydration salts  <br>
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Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit)  <br>
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Pepto Bismol tablets  <br>
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Pseudoephedrine HCL 30&nbsp;mg (Sudafed)  <br>
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Scissors  <br>
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Sterile gauze pads  <br>
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Tinactin (antifungal cream)  <br>
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Tylenol  <br>
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Tweezers  <br>
 +
Whistle  <br>
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===Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist===
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If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since you submitted your examination reports to the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of Medical Services. Failure to disclose existing or new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy can endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve. If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your physical exam is more than two years old, contact the Office of Medical Services to find out whether you need to update your records.
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If your dentist or Peace Corps dental consultant has recommended that you undergo dental treatment or repair, you must complete that work and make sure your dentist sends requested confirmation reports or X-rays to the Office of Medical Services.
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If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact your physician’s office, obtain a copy of your immunization record, and bring it with you to Bolivia. If you have any immunizations prior to Peace Corps service, the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for the cost. The Peace Corps will provide all the immunizations necessary for your overseas assignment shortly after you arrive in Bolivia. You do not need to begin taking malaria medication prior to departure.
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Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-thecounter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. Although the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for this three-month supply, it will order refills during your service. While awaiting shipment—which can take several months—you will be dependent on your own medication supply. Although the Peace Corps will provide you with multivitamins, it will not pay for herbal or nonprescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.
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You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, but they might come in handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a three-month supply of prescription drugs.
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If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs with you—a pair and a spare. If a pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglasses form during your examination.  We discourage you from using contact lenses during your service to reduce your risk of developing a serious infection or other eye disease. Most Peace Corps countries do not have appropriate water and sanitation to support eye care with the use of contact lenses. The Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or associated solutions unless an ophthalmologist has recommended their use for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps’ Office of Medical Services has given approval.
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If you are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in health-care plans, you may wish to consult an insurance specialist about unique coverage needs before your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary healthcare from the time you leave for your pre-departure orientation until you complete your service. When you finish, you will be entitled to the post-service healthcare benefits described in the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook. You may wish to consider keeping an existing health plan in effect during your service if you think age or preexisting conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current plan when you return home.
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===Safety and Security—Our Partnership===
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 +
Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk.
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Property thefts and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal safety problems. In addition, more than 84 percent of Volunteers surveyed in the 2004 Peace Corps Volunteer Survey say they would join the Peace Corps again.
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The Peace Corps approaches safety and security as a partnership with you. This Welcome Book contains sections on: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle; Peace Corps Training; and Your Health Care and Safety. All of these sections include important safety and security information.
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The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the safest and most secure way possible, because working to maximize the safety and security of Volunteers is our highest priority. Not only do we provide you with training and tools to prepare for the unexpected, but we teach you to identify and manage the risks you may encounter.
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===Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk===
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There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control.  Based on information gathered from incident reports worldwide in 2004, the following factors stand out as risk characteristics for assaults. Assaults consist of personal crimes committed against Volunteers, and do not include property crimes (such as vandalism or theft).
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* Location: Most crimes occurred when Volunteers were in public areas (e.g., street, park, beach, public buildings). Specifically, 43 percent of assaults took place when Volunteers were away from their sites.
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* Time of day: Assaults usually took place on the weekend during the evening between 5:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.— with most assaults occurring around 1:00 a.m.
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* Absence of others: Assaults usually occurred when the Volunteer was unaccompanied. In 82 percent of the sexual assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied and in 55 percent of physical assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied.
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* Relationship to assailant: In most assaults, the Volunteer did not know the assailant.
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* Consumption of alcohol: Forty percent of all assaults involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.
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===Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk===
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Before and during service, your training will address these areas of concern so that you can reduce the risks you face.
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 +
For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:
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<u>Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft: </u>
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* Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel
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* Avoid high-crime areas per Peace Corps guidance
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* Know the vocabulary to get help in an emergency
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* Carry valuables in different pockets/places
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* Carry a “dummy” wallet as a decoy Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of burglary:
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* Live with a local family or on a family compound
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* Put strong locks on doors and keep valuables in a lock box or trunk
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* Leave irreplaceable objects at home in the U.S.
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* Follow Peace Corps guidelines on maintaining home security
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<u>Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of assault: </u>
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* Make local friends
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* Make sure your appearance is respectful of local customs; don’t draw negative attention to yourself by wearing inappropriate clothing
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* Get to know local officials, police, and neighbors
 +
* Travel with someone whenever possible
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* Avoid known high crime areas
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* Limit alcohol consumption
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===Support from Staff===
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 +
In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” The new office is led by an Associate Director for Safety and Security who reports to the Peace Corps Director and includes the following divisions: Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security; Information and Personnel Security; Emergency Preparedness, Plans, Training and Exercise; and Crime Statistics and Analysis.
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The major responsibilities of the Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security Division are to coordinate the office’s overseas operations and direct the Peace Corps’ safety and security officers who are located in various regions around the world that have Peace Corps programs. The safety and security officers conduct security assessments; review safety trainings; train trainers and managers; train Volunteer safety wardens, local guards, and staff; develop security incident response procedures; and provide crisis management support.
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If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident, Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure that the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed.  After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace Corps staff provides support by reassessing the Volunteer’s work site and housing arrangements and making any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the time of the incident.
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 +
The country-specific data chart below shows the incidence rates and the average number of incidents of the major types of safety incidents reported by Peace Corps Volunteers/ trainees in Bolivia as compared to all other Inter-America and Pacific region programs as a whole, from 2001–2005.  It is presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for statistical accuracy.
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 +
To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:
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 +
The incidence rate for each type of crime is the number of crime events relative to the Volunteer/trainee population.
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 +
It is expressed on the chart as a ratio of crime to Volunteer and trainee years (or V/T years, which is a measure of 12 full months of V/T service) to allow for a statistically valid way to compare crime data across countries. An “incident” is a specific offense, per Peace Corps' classification of offenses, and may involve one or more Volunteer/trainee victims. For example, if two Volunteers are robbed at the same time and place, this is classified as one robbery incident.
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The chart is separated into eight crime categories. These include vandalism (malicious defacement or damage of property); theft (taking without force or illegal entry); burglary (forcible entry of a residence); robbery (taking something by force); minor physical assault (attacking without a weapon with minor injuries); minor sexual assault (fondling, groping, etc.); aggravated assault (attacking with a weapon, and/or without a weapon when serious injury results); and rape (sexual intercourse without consent).
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When anticipating Peace Corps Volunteer service, you should review all of the safety and security information provided to you, including the strategies to reduce risk. Throughout your training and Volunteer service, you will be expected to successfully complete all training competencies in a variety of areas including safety and security. Once in-country, use the tools and information shared with you to remain as safe and secure as possible.
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 +
===What if you become a victim of a violent crime?===
 +
 
 +
Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of violent crimes.  The Peace Corps will give you information and training in how to be safe. But, just as in the U.S., crime happens, and Volunteers can become victims. When this happens, the investigative team of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is charged with helping pursue prosecution of those who perpetrate a violent crime against a Volunteer. If you become a victim of a violent crime, the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute is entirely yours, and one of the tasks of the OIG is to make sure that you are fully informed of your options and help you through the process and procedures involved in going forward with prosecution should you wish to do so.  If you decide to prosecute, we are here to assist you in every way we can.
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 +
Crimes that occur overseas, of course, are investigated and prosecuted by local authorities in local courts. Our role is to coordinate the investigation and evidence collection with the regional security officers (RSOs) at the U.S. embassy, local police, and local prosecutors and others to ensure that your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under the laws of the country. OIG investigative staff has extensive experience in criminal investigation, in working sensitively with victims, and as advocates for victims. We also, may, in certain limited circumstances, arrange for the retention of a local lawyer to assist the local public prosecutor in making the case against the individual who perpetrated the violent crime.
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If you do become a victim of a violent crime, first, make sure you are in a safe place and with people you trust and second, contact the country director or the Peace Corps medical officer. Immediate reporting is important to the preservation of evidence and the chances of apprehending the suspect.  Country directors and medical officers are required to report all violent crimes to the Inspector General and the RSO. This information is protected from unauthorized further disclosure by the Privacy Act. Reporting the crime also helps prevent your further victimization and protects your fellow Volunteers.
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In conjunction with the RSO, the OIG does a preliminary investigation of all violent crimes against Volunteers regardless of whether the crime has been reported to local authorities or of the decision you may ultimately make to prosecute. If you are a victim of a crime, our staff will work with you through final disposition of the case. OIG staff is available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. We may be contacted through our 24-hour violent crime hotline via telephone at 202.692.2911, or by e-mail at violentcrimehotline@peacecorps.gov.
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===Security Issues in Bolivia===
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When it comes to your safety and security in the Peace Corps, you have to be willing to adapt your behavior and lifestyle.
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Peace Corps/Bolivia has a strict out-of-site policy. You must also minimize the potential for being a target of crime. As with anywhere in the world, crime does exist in Bolivia. You can reduce your risk by avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable and by taking precautions. Crime at the community or town level is less frequent than in the large cities; people know each other and generally will not steal from their neighbors. Tourist attractions in large towns, for instance, are favorite work sites for pickpockets and scam artists.
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Extreme poverty and a poor economy have led to an increase in petty crimes in Bolivia. It is important to be especially alert and cautious in bus terminals, taxis, and other places frequented by travelers. Sessions will be held during training about common robbery scams and how to avoid them. For both economic and social reasons, harassment (especially sexual harassment) and assaults have also increased. Almost all recent incidents of harassment or assault of Volunteers have involved alcohol consumption by either the Volunteer or the assailant. Volunteers, especially women, should avoid going out alone, particularly at night and in larger communities.
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===Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime===
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You must be prepared to take on a large responsibility for your own safety. Only you can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your home is secure, and develop relationships in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. In coming to Bolivia, do what you would do if you moved to a new city in the United States: Be cautious, check things out, ask questions, learn about your neighborhood, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware. You can significantly reduce your vulnerability to crime by integrating into your community, learning the local language, acting responsibly, and abiding by Peace Corps policies and procedures. Serving safely and effectively in Bolivia may require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.
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Volunteers attract a lot of attention in large cities and at their sites, but they are likely to receive more negative attention in highly populated centers than at their sites, where “family,” friends, and colleagues look out for them. While whistles and exclamations are fairly common on the street, this behavior can be reduced if you dress conservatively, avoid culturally inappropriate eye contact, and do not respond to unwanted attention. In addition, keep your money out of sight by using an undergarment money pouch, the kind that stays hidden under your shirt or inside your coat. Do not keep your money in outside pockets of backpacks, in coat pockets, or in fanny packs. And always walk with a companion at night.
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===Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Bolivia===
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The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your two-year service and includes the following: information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for addressing safety and security incidents.  Bolivia’s in-country safety program is outlined below.
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The Peace Corps/Bolivia staff will keep you informed of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates will be provided via publications, meetings, and other methods. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, you will be contacted through the emergency communication network.
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Volunteer training will include sessions on specific safety and security issues in Bolivia. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.
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Volunteers are required to live with a Bolivian family at their assigned sites for the duration of their service. Certain site selection criteria are used to find safe housing. The Peace Corps staff works closely with host communities and counterpart agencies to help prepare them for a Volunteer’s arrival and to establish expectations of their respective roles in supporting the Volunteer. Each site is inspected before a Volunteer’s arrival to ensure placement in appropriate, safe, and secure housing and work sites. Site selection is based in part on any relevant site history; access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services; availability of communications, transportation, and markets; housing options and living arrangements; and other Volunteer support needs.
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You will also learn about Peace Corps/Bolivia’s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you visit your assigned site during training, you will complete a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your home stay house. If there is a security threat, you will gather with other Volunteers in Bolivia at predetermined locations until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.
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Finally, in order for the Peace Corps to be fully responsive to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers fully comply with Peace Corps/Bolivia’s out-of-site policy and notification system, and immediately report any security incident to the Peace Corps medical officer. The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner, and it collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to future Volunteers.
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[[Category:Bolivia]]
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[[Category:Health and Safety]]

Revision as of 10:58, 26 December 2011


Health care and safety in [[{{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |7}}]]
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer and trainee. Medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative approach to disease.

Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk.

  • [[Packing list for {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |7}}]]
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  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |7}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |7}}]]
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  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |7}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Bolivia| |7}}]]
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See also:
Pre-Departure Checklist
Staging Timeline
The Health of the Volunteer The Safety of the Volunteer


The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. Peace Corps/Bolivia maintains a clinic in the Cochabamba office with a full-time and several part-time medical officers who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as century 21 broker properti jual beli sewa rumah Indonesia testing and basic treatment, are also available in Bolivia at local, American-standard laboratories, clinics, and hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to the closest American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.

Health Issues in Bolivia

Altitude sickness, malaria, leishmaniasis, Chagas’ disease, infectious diarrhea, tuberculosis, and hepatitis are among the diseases that commonly occur in the Bolivian population. Preparing for and adjusting to altitude is discussed in detail at the end of this section.

Because malaria is endemic in some areas of Bolivia, taking an antimalarial medication and sleeping inside a mosquito net are mandatory for Volunteers assigned to those regions. Leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of some species of sand flies, can be prevented by wearing protective clothing and insect repellent and avoiding the outdoors when sand flies are most active (dusk to dawn). Chagas’ disease, which is transmitted via the bite of a reduviid bug, is also endemic in many areas of Bolivia. This disease can also be prevented by sleeping in a mosquito net (provided by Peace Corps) and by living in a house with well-plastered walls and screened doors and windows.

Following instructions to ensure that your food and water are fresh and cleaned appropriately will help you avoid stomach bacteria and intestinal parasites. You may also be exposed to colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses. Taking standard precautions (e.g., washing your hands frequently, taking the provided vitamins, etc.) will reduce your risk of becoming ill.

Altitude Sickness

Approximately 25 percent of people arriving in La Paz or other high-altitude locations experience an unpleasant period of acclimatization that may persist for a few days. Symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, nausea, vomiting, respiratory distress, and insomnia. Although there seems to be a genetic predisposition to altitude sickness, it is not possible to tell in advance who will have problems. Those century 21 broker properti jual beli sewa rumah Indonesia who have had previous difficulties are likely to have similar problems each time they go to altitudes above 8,000 to 10,000 feet. Those with preexisting medical problems or respiratory infections such as colds, bronchitis, or pneumonia should delay travel until they are fully recovered. Individuals with hypertension, diabetes, angina pectoris, asthma, or emphysema should see a physician for clearance prior to visiting high altitudes. La Paz is at almost 12,000 feet, while Cochabamba, site of the training center and Peace Corps office, is at 8,000 feet.

There are two approaches to minimizing the unpleasant symptoms of altitude sickness: taking prophylaxis prior to arrival and treating symptoms after arrival. The health unit at the U.S. embassy in La Paz recommends that adults take 125 milligrams of the prescription drug Diamox (acetazolamide) by mouth twice a day for two days prior to travel, on the day of flight, and for three days after arrival. (Diamox is not recommended if you are allergic to sulfa drugs.)

Whether or not you take Diamox prior to traveling to Bolivia, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent or treat altitude sickness after your arrival:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids. You need considerably more fluids than your normal intake. Avoid alcoholic drinks initially, and drink only in moderation after several days. Limit carbonated drinks, or allow them to go flat before drinking them. Limit mineral water because of the high salt content. Gatorade can be very helpful, since it provides fluid and electrolytes.
  2. Reduce food intake. Frequent small, light meals are best. Physicians in Bolivia recommend increasing carbohydrate intake (e.g., pasta and potatoes) and eating desserts or candy.
  3. Limit your activities. Although you should avoid overexertion, the frequently given advice to lie down during the initial hours at high altitude can actually increase a headache if overdone. Athletic adults are more likely to develop serious complications, so avoid intense physical activity until you are well adapted.
  4. Use recommended medications if necessary. Other than Diamox, acetaminophen or aspirin (two tablets every four hours) taken with a full glass of water is the best medicine for an altitude headache. Avoid other medications for what is commonly known as “soroche,” such as Coramine, Micoren, or diuretics other than Diamox. They can increase symptoms or even be dangerous. Coca tea cannot be used in any form for altitude sickness or for rehydration.
  5. It is unlikely that you will need oxygen, but if you experience shortness of breath or a severe headache, inform the Peace Corps medical officer or any staff member immediately.

Helping You Stay Healthy

The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Upon your arrival in Bolivia, you will receive a medical handbook. At the end of training, you will receive a medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first-aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter.

During pre-service training, you will have access to basic medical supplies through the training center medical officer. However, you will be responsible for your own supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as the Peace Corps will not order these items during training. Please bring a three-month supply of any prescription drugs you use, since they may not be available here and it may take several months for shipments to arrive. Also, please try to switch to generic forms of any medications you take before coming to Bolivia.

You will have physicals midway through your service and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer in Bolivia will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Bolivia, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.

Maintaining Your Health

As a Volunteer, you must accept a certain amount of responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The adage “An ounce of prevention ...” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. Your most important responsibility in Bolivia is to take preventive measures to avoid altitude sickness, malaria, leishmaniasis, Chagas’ disease, food- and waterborne intestinal disorders, respiratory illnesses, alcohol- and drug-related problems, STDs, skin disorders, minor injuries, and sunburn and heatstroke.

Many illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken. These include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, dysentery, tapeworms, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation in Bolivia during pre-service training.

Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV and other STDs. You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To lessen the risk, use a condom every time you have sex. Whether your partner is a host country citizen, a fellow Volunteer, or anyone else, do not assume this person is free of HIV/AIDS or other STDs. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue.

Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Your medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available without charge from the medical officer.

It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office or other designated facility for scheduled immunizations and that you let your medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.

Women’s Health Information

Pregnancy is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions that require medical attention but also have programmatic ramifications. The Peace Corps is responsible for determining the medical risk and the availability of appropriate medical care if the Volunteer remains in-country. Given the circumstances under which Volunteers live and work in Peace Corps countries, it is rare that the Peace Corps’ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met.

If feminine hygiene products are not available for you to purchase at your site or the closest departmental capital, the Peace Corps medical officer in Bolivia will provide them. If you require a specific feminine hygiene product, please bring a three-month supply with you.

Your Peace Corps Medical Kit

The Peace Corps medical officer provides Volunteers with a medical kit that contains basic items necessary to prevent and treat illnesses that may occur during service. Kit items can be periodically restocked at the medical office.

Medical Kit Contents

Ace bandages
Adhesive tape
Antacid tablets
Antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B)
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens)
Band-Aids
Calamine lotion
Cough suppresant tablets
Condoms
Dental floss
Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl)
American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook
Eye wash
Gauze pads
Hydrocortisone Cream
Ibuprofren 200 mg. tablets
Insect repellent
Iodine tablets (for water purification)
Latex gloves
Lip moisturizer with SPF 15
Oral rehydration salts
Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit)
Pepto Bismol tablets
Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed)
Scissors
Sterile gauze pads
Tinactin (antifungal cream)
Tylenol
Tweezers
Whistle

Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist

If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since you submitted your examination reports to the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of Medical Services. Failure to disclose existing or new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy can endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve. If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your physical exam is more than two years old, contact the Office of Medical Services to find out whether you need to update your records.

If your dentist or Peace Corps dental consultant has recommended that you undergo dental treatment or repair, you must complete that work and make sure your dentist sends requested confirmation reports or X-rays to the Office of Medical Services.

If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact your physician’s office, obtain a copy of your immunization record, and bring it with you to Bolivia. If you have any immunizations prior to Peace Corps service, the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for the cost. The Peace Corps will provide all the immunizations necessary for your overseas assignment shortly after you arrive in Bolivia. You do not need to begin taking malaria medication prior to departure.

Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-thecounter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. Although the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for this three-month supply, it will order refills during your service. While awaiting shipment—which can take several months—you will be dependent on your own medication supply. Although the Peace Corps will provide you with multivitamins, it will not pay for herbal or nonprescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.

You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, but they might come in handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a three-month supply of prescription drugs.

If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs with you—a pair and a spare. If a pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglasses form during your examination. We discourage you from using contact lenses during your service to reduce your risk of developing a serious infection or other eye disease. Most Peace Corps countries do not have appropriate water and sanitation to support eye care with the use of contact lenses. The Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or associated solutions unless an ophthalmologist has recommended their use for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps’ Office of Medical Services has given approval.

If you are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in health-care plans, you may wish to consult an insurance specialist about unique coverage needs before your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary healthcare from the time you leave for your pre-departure orientation until you complete your service. When you finish, you will be entitled to the post-service healthcare benefits described in the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook. You may wish to consider keeping an existing health plan in effect during your service if you think age or preexisting conditions might prevent you from reenrolling in your current plan when you return home.

Safety and Security—Our Partnership

Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk.

Property thefts and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal safety problems. In addition, more than 84 percent of Volunteers surveyed in the 2004 Peace Corps Volunteer Survey say they would join the Peace Corps again.

The Peace Corps approaches safety and security as a partnership with you. This Welcome Book contains sections on: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle; Peace Corps Training; and Your Health Care and Safety. All of these sections include important safety and security information.

The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the safest and most secure way possible, because working to maximize the safety and security of Volunteers is our highest priority. Not only do we provide you with training and tools to prepare for the unexpected, but we teach you to identify and manage the risks you may encounter.

Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk

There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control. Based on information gathered from incident reports worldwide in 2004, the following factors stand out as risk characteristics for assaults. Assaults consist of personal crimes committed against Volunteers, and do not include property crimes (such as vandalism or theft).

  • Location: Most crimes occurred when Volunteers were in public areas (e.g., street, park, beach, public buildings). Specifically, 43 percent of assaults took place when Volunteers were away from their sites.
  • Time of day: Assaults usually took place on the weekend during the evening between 5:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.— with most assaults occurring around 1:00 a.m.
  • Absence of others: Assaults usually occurred when the Volunteer was unaccompanied. In 82 percent of the sexual assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied and in 55 percent of physical assaults the Volunteer was unaccompanied.
  • Relationship to assailant: In most assaults, the Volunteer did not know the assailant.
  • Consumption of alcohol: Forty percent of all assaults involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.

Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk

Before and during service, your training will address these areas of concern so that you can reduce the risks you face.

For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:

Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft:

  • Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel
  • Avoid high-crime areas per Peace Corps guidance
  • Know the vocabulary to get help in an emergency
  • Carry valuables in different pockets/places
  • Carry a “dummy” wallet as a decoy Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of burglary:
  • Live with a local family or on a family compound
  • Put strong locks on doors and keep valuables in a lock box or trunk
  • Leave irreplaceable objects at home in the U.S.
  • Follow Peace Corps guidelines on maintaining home security

Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of assault:

  • Make local friends
  • Make sure your appearance is respectful of local customs; don’t draw negative attention to yourself by wearing inappropriate clothing
  • Get to know local officials, police, and neighbors
  • Travel with someone whenever possible
  • Avoid known high crime areas
  • Limit alcohol consumption

Support from Staff

In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” The new office is led by an Associate Director for Safety and Security who reports to the Peace Corps Director and includes the following divisions: Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security; Information and Personnel Security; Emergency Preparedness, Plans, Training and Exercise; and Crime Statistics and Analysis.

The major responsibilities of the Volunteer Safety and Overseas Security Division are to coordinate the office’s overseas operations and direct the Peace Corps’ safety and security officers who are located in various regions around the world that have Peace Corps programs. The safety and security officers conduct security assessments; review safety trainings; train trainers and managers; train Volunteer safety wardens, local guards, and staff; develop security incident response procedures; and provide crisis management support.

If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident, Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure that the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed. After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace Corps staff provides support by reassessing the Volunteer’s work site and housing arrangements and making any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the time of the incident.

The country-specific data chart below shows the incidence rates and the average number of incidents of the major types of safety incidents reported by Peace Corps Volunteers/ trainees in Bolivia as compared to all other Inter-America and Pacific region programs as a whole, from 2001–2005. It is presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for statistical accuracy.

To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:

The incidence rate for each type of crime is the number of crime events relative to the Volunteer/trainee population.

It is expressed on the chart as a ratio of crime to Volunteer and trainee years (or V/T years, which is a measure of 12 full months of V/T service) to allow for a statistically valid way to compare crime data across countries. An “incident” is a specific offense, per Peace Corps' classification of offenses, and may involve one or more Volunteer/trainee victims. For example, if two Volunteers are robbed at the same time and place, this is classified as one robbery incident.

The chart is separated into eight crime categories. These include vandalism (malicious defacement or damage of property); theft (taking without force or illegal entry); burglary (forcible entry of a residence); robbery (taking something by force); minor physical assault (attacking without a weapon with minor injuries); minor sexual assault (fondling, groping, etc.); aggravated assault (attacking with a weapon, and/or without a weapon when serious injury results); and rape (sexual intercourse without consent).

When anticipating Peace Corps Volunteer service, you should review all of the safety and security information provided to you, including the strategies to reduce risk. Throughout your training and Volunteer service, you will be expected to successfully complete all training competencies in a variety of areas including safety and security. Once in-country, use the tools and information shared with you to remain as safe and secure as possible.

What if you become a victim of a violent crime?

Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of violent crimes. The Peace Corps will give you information and training in how to be safe. But, just as in the U.S., crime happens, and Volunteers can become victims. When this happens, the investigative team of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is charged with helping pursue prosecution of those who perpetrate a violent crime against a Volunteer. If you become a victim of a violent crime, the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute is entirely yours, and one of the tasks of the OIG is to make sure that you are fully informed of your options and help you through the process and procedures involved in going forward with prosecution should you wish to do so. If you decide to prosecute, we are here to assist you in every way we can.

Crimes that occur overseas, of course, are investigated and prosecuted by local authorities in local courts. Our role is to coordinate the investigation and evidence collection with the regional security officers (RSOs) at the U.S. embassy, local police, and local prosecutors and others to ensure that your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under the laws of the country. OIG investigative staff has extensive experience in criminal investigation, in working sensitively with victims, and as advocates for victims. We also, may, in certain limited circumstances, arrange for the retention of a local lawyer to assist the local public prosecutor in making the case against the individual who perpetrated the violent crime.

If you do become a victim of a violent crime, first, make sure you are in a safe place and with people you trust and second, contact the country director or the Peace Corps medical officer. Immediate reporting is important to the preservation of evidence and the chances of apprehending the suspect. Country directors and medical officers are required to report all violent crimes to the Inspector General and the RSO. This information is protected from unauthorized further disclosure by the Privacy Act. Reporting the crime also helps prevent your further victimization and protects your fellow Volunteers.

In conjunction with the RSO, the OIG does a preliminary investigation of all violent crimes against Volunteers regardless of whether the crime has been reported to local authorities or of the decision you may ultimately make to prosecute. If you are a victim of a crime, our staff will work with you through final disposition of the case. OIG staff is available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. We may be contacted through our 24-hour violent crime hotline via telephone at 202.692.2911, or by e-mail at violentcrimehotline@peacecorps.gov.

Security Issues in Bolivia

When it comes to your safety and security in the Peace Corps, you have to be willing to adapt your behavior and lifestyle.

Peace Corps/Bolivia has a strict out-of-site policy. You must also minimize the potential for being a target of crime. As with anywhere in the world, crime does exist in Bolivia. You can reduce your risk by avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable and by taking precautions. Crime at the community or town level is less frequent than in the large cities; people know each other and generally will not steal from their neighbors. Tourist attractions in large towns, for instance, are favorite work sites for pickpockets and scam artists.

Extreme poverty and a poor economy have led to an increase in petty crimes in Bolivia. It is important to be especially alert and cautious in bus terminals, taxis, and other places frequented by travelers. Sessions will be held during training about common robbery scams and how to avoid them. For both economic and social reasons, harassment (especially sexual harassment) and assaults have also increased. Almost all recent incidents of harassment or assault of Volunteers have involved alcohol consumption by either the Volunteer or the assailant. Volunteers, especially women, should avoid going out alone, particularly at night and in larger communities.

Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime

You must be prepared to take on a large responsibility for your own safety. Only you can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your home is secure, and develop relationships in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. In coming to Bolivia, do what you would do if you moved to a new city in the United States: Be cautious, check things out, ask questions, learn about your neighborhood, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware. You can significantly reduce your vulnerability to crime by integrating into your community, learning the local language, acting responsibly, and abiding by Peace Corps policies and procedures. Serving safely and effectively in Bolivia may require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.

Volunteers attract a lot of attention in large cities and at their sites, but they are likely to receive more negative attention in highly populated centers than at their sites, where “family,” friends, and colleagues look out for them. While whistles and exclamations are fairly common on the street, this behavior can be reduced if you dress conservatively, avoid culturally inappropriate eye contact, and do not respond to unwanted attention. In addition, keep your money out of sight by using an undergarment money pouch, the kind that stays hidden under your shirt or inside your coat. Do not keep your money in outside pockets of backpacks, in coat pockets, or in fanny packs. And always walk with a companion at night.

Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Bolivia

The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your two-year service and includes the following: information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for addressing safety and security incidents. Bolivia’s in-country safety program is outlined below.

The Peace Corps/Bolivia staff will keep you informed of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates will be provided via publications, meetings, and other methods. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, you will be contacted through the emergency communication network.

Volunteer training will include sessions on specific safety and security issues in Bolivia. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.

Volunteers are required to live with a Bolivian family at their assigned sites for the duration of their service. Certain site selection criteria are used to find safe housing. The Peace Corps staff works closely with host communities and counterpart agencies to help prepare them for a Volunteer’s arrival and to establish expectations of their respective roles in supporting the Volunteer. Each site is inspected before a Volunteer’s arrival to ensure placement in appropriate, safe, and secure housing and work sites. Site selection is based in part on any relevant site history; access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services; availability of communications, transportation, and markets; housing options and living arrangements; and other Volunteer support needs.

You will also learn about Peace Corps/Bolivia’s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you visit your assigned site during training, you will complete a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your home stay house. If there is a security threat, you will gather with other Volunteers in Bolivia at predetermined locations until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.

Finally, in order for the Peace Corps to be fully responsive to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers fully comply with Peace Corps/Bolivia’s out-of-site policy and notification system, and immediately report any security incident to the Peace Corps medical officer. The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner, and it collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to future Volunteers.