Difference between pages "Health care and safety in Ethiopia" and "Health care and safety in Guyana"

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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. The Peace Corps in Ethiopia maintains
 
a clinic with a full-time medical officer, who takes care of
 
Volunteers’ primary health care needs. Additional medical
 
services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also
 
available in Ethiopia at local hospitals. If you become seriously
 
ill, you will be transported either to an American-standard
 
medical facility in the region or to the United States.
 
  
===Health Issues in Ethiopia===
 
  
Ethiopia is geographically diverse. Health risks in Ethiopia
+
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. The Peace Corps in Guyana maintains a clinic with one full-time medical officer dedicated to Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services are provided by referral to in-country consultants.  Testing and basic treatment are also available in Guyana at local, American-standard hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to a medical facility in either Panama or the United States.  
include insect-borne diseases such as malaria, tick-borne
+
 
typhus, and dengue fever; food- and water-borne diseases
+
===Health Issues in Guyana===
such as intestinal worms, giardiasis, amebiasis, typhoid fever,
+
 
hepatitis A and E, cholera, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, polio,
+
Guyana is a tropical country with a dense population along its coastline and smaller, scattered groups in the more remote interior. As in other tropical countries, there is the risk of exposure to mosquito-, food-, and water-borne diseases. Snake and animal bites pose less of a risk.
rabies and snake bites. There are also periodic outbreaks
+
 
of meningococcal meningitis in some areas, and fatal
+
Insect-borne diseases: All mosquito-borne parasitic infections exist in Guyana, including malaria, filariasis, and dengue febrile. The interior of the country has the highest incidence of malaria, with fewer cases reported on the coast. Filariasis and dengue fever are increasingly affecting communities on the coast, especially during rainy seasons, while isolated cases of leishmaniasis, a fly-borne disease, occur primarily in the interior and on the Brazilian border. Volunteers in Guyana are required to take malaria prophylaxis throughout their Peace Corps service and are encouraged to protect themselves by using insect repellents, sleeping under treated nets (which Peace Corps/Guyana provides), and wearing appropriate clothing. Mosquitos in Guyana are chloroquine-resistant, hence Volunteers are required to take Larium or other recommended prophylaxis.
hemorrhagic fevers are present but rare.
+
 
 +
Food- and water-borne diseases: The country’s heavy rainfalls and high tides often create floods on the coast and in some remote communities, resulting in outbreaks of water-borne infections. These include amebic and bacillary dysentery, typhoid fever, helminthic infections, hepatitis A, and other diarrheal diseases. To decrease the risk of infection, Volunteers are provided with training on water purification methods and are encouraged to boil their drinking water as an extra safety precaution. Volunteers are also given typhoid vaccines, however this only provides 70 percent protection.
 +
 
 +
Animal bites and snake bites: Although there is a low risk of being bitten by a poisonous snake in coastal areas, bites can occur inland in jungle areas. There have been no reported cases of rabies among dogs. However, because Volunteers may travel to neighboring countries that do have rabies, they are given rabies pre-exposure vaccines. Volunteers are discouraged from keeping monkeys and snakes as pets for health reasons.
 +
 
 +
HIV/AIDS: Guyana has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in South America, and other STIs are also prevalent.  Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV and other STIs. You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To reduce risk, use a condom every time you have sex. You will receive more information from the Peace Corps medical officer about this important issue. The Peace Corps medical unit stocks condoms.
 +
 
 +
Substance abuse: There has been an increase in illegal drug use in Guyana. The Peace Corps prohibits the use of all illegal drugs, including marijuana, by Volunteers and trainees.  Invitees who use illegal substances should not accept an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps. Invitees should disclose prior use of illegal drugs/substances for medical clearance.  Although Guyanese social occasions often include alcohol consumption, Volunteers are expected to avoid excessive use of alcohol, which is often a factor in Volunteer safety incidents. You will need to exercise your good judgment under sometimes difficult circumstances, including social pressure to drink in excess. Peace Corps/Guyana’s alcohol policy provides further guidance to Volunteers.  
  
 
===Helping You Stay Healthy===
 
===Helping You Stay Healthy===
  
The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary
+
The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Upon your arrival in Guyana, you will receive a medical handbook. During 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.  
inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy.
 
Upon your arrival in Ethiopia, 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
+
During pre-service training, you will have access to basic medical supplies through the medical office. However, during this time, 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 in-country, and it may take several weeks for shipments to arrive. Also, please try to switch to generic forms of any medications you take before coming to Guyana as the name-brand may not be available.  
medical supplies through the 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.
 
  
You will have physicals at midservice and at the end of your
+
You will have physical evaluations at mid-service and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer in Guyana will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Guyana, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.  
service. If you develop a serious medical problem during
 
your service, the medical officer in Ethiopia will consult with
 
the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is
 
determined that your condition cannot be treated in Ethiopia,
 
you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation
 
and care.
 
  
 
===Maintaining Your Health===
 
===Maintaining Your Health===
  
As a Volunteer, you must accept considerable responsibility
+
As a Volunteer, you must accept considerable responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. The most important of your responsibilities in Guyana is to take the following preventive measures:  
for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly
+
 
reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The adage “An
+
Many diseases that affect Volunteers are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken. These diseases include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, dysentery, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific recommendations for your site in Guyana during training.
ounce of prevention …” becomes extremely important in
+
 
areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up
+
Malaria is endemic in Guyana, so it is extremely important to fully comply with the recommended drug regimen for prevention of malaria, a disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Failure to adhere to the regimen can result in administrative separation.
to the standards of the United States. The most important
+
 
of your responsibilities in Ethiopia is to take the following
+
Check with the Peace Corps medical officer before taking any locally purchased or prescribed medications. Some drugsthat have not been approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration are available in developing countries, and many drugs that require a prescription in the United States can be purchased over-the-counter in other countries.
preventive measures:
 
  
Many illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely
+
Traveling around Guyana requires water travel. Trainees are encouraged to learn how to swim before arrival and are provided with information during pre-service training on water travel. Volunteers are provided with life jackets and are expected to wear them when traveling by boat.  
preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken.
 
These illnesses include food poisoning, parasitic infections,
 
hepatitis A, dysentery, Guinea worms, tapeworms, and
 
typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific
 
standards for water and food preparation in Ethiopia during
 
pre-service training.
 
  
Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection
+
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 Peace Corps medical office. Birth control pills do not prevent the spread of HIV.  
with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. You are
 
taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To lessen 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
+
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 the medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.
of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Your
+
 
medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate
+
Culture shock and adjustment to a new country can be a trigger for a Volunteer who is mentally or emotionally challenged. Volunteers must be aware of the limitations of their medical conditions and understand Guyana will not be able to adjust to their needs, but rather, they will need to adjust to Guyana.  
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 the medical officer know
 
immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.
 
  
 
===Women’s Health Information===
 
===Women’s Health Information===
  
Pregnancy is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer
+
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.  
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
+
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. Guyana currently cannot provide the required services for pregnant Volunteers in-country.
purchase on the local market, the Peace Corps medical
+
 
officer in Ethiopia will provide them. If you require a specific
+
Feminine hygiene products are available for you to purchase at the local market. The medical unit will provide them only in cases of emergency. If you require a specific feminine hygiene product, please bring a three-month supply with you.  
product, please bring a three-month supply with you.
 
  
 
===Your Peace Corps Medical Kit===
 
===Your Peace Corps Medical Kit===
  
The Peace Corps medical officer will provide you with a 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.  
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====
 
====Medical Kit Contents====
 +
 
Ace bandages <br>
 
Ace bandages <br>
Adhesive tape <br>
+
Adhesive tape <br>
American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook <br>
+
American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook <br>
Antacid tablets (Tums) <br>
+
Antacid tablets <br>
Antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B) <br>
+
Antibiotic ointment <br>
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens) <br>
+
Antifungal cream (Tinactin) <br>
Band-Aids <br>
+
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner <br>
Butterfly closures <br>
+
Band-Aids <br>
Calamine lotion <br>
+
Butterfly closures <br>
Cepacol lozenges <br>
+
Cepacol lozenges <br>
Condoms <br>
+
Condoms <br>
Dental floss <br>
+
Dental floss <br>
Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl) <br>
+
Diphenhyrdramine HCL 25&nbsp;mg (Benadryl) <br>
Insect repellent stick (Cutter’s) <br>
+
Insect repellent stick <br>
Iodine tablets (for water purification) <br>
+
Iodine tablets (for water purification)   <br>
Lip balm (Chapstick) <br>
+
Lip balm <br>
Oral rehydration salts <br>
+
Mosquito nets  <br>
Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit) <br>
+
Oral rehydration salts <br>
Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed) <br>
+
Oral thermometer <br>
Robitussin-DM lozenges (for cough) <br>
+
Pseudophedrine HCL 30&nbsp;mg (Sudafed) <br>
Scissors <br>
+
Robitussin DM cough lozenges <br>
Sterile gauze pads <br>
+
Scissors <br>
Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine) <br>
+
Sterile gauze pads <br>
Tinactin (antifungal cream) <br>
+
Sunscreen  <br>
Tweezers <br>
+
Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine) <br>
 +
Tweezers <br>
  
 
===Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist===
 
===Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist===
  
If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental,
+
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 new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy can endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve.
or dental—since you submitted your examination reports to
+
 
the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of
+
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.
Medical Services. Failure to disclose new illnesses, injuries,
+
 
allergies, or pregnancy can endanger your health and may
+
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 your pre-departure orientation. 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 Guyana. You do not need to begin taking malaria medication prior to departure.  
jeopardize your eligibility to serve.
 
  
If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your
+
Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-thecounter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. You may want to consider switching from a name brand to generic drugs as your Peace Corps medical officer may not be able to purchase your name brand prescription. As well, please be advised that the medical office does not carry every type of birth control pill. 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. The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or nonprescribed medications, such as St. John’s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.  
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
+
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.  
your physician’s office to obtain a copy of your immunization
 
record and bring it to your pre-departure orientation. 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, either at your pre-departure orientation
 
or shortly after you arrive in Ethiopia. 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. The Peace Corps 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
+
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. The Peace Corps discourages you from using contact lenses during your Peace Corps 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.  
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. The Peace
 
Corps discourages 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,
+
If you are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in healthcare 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.  
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
 
health care 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 health care 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===
 
===Safety and Security—Our Partnership===
  
Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety
+
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.  
and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar
+
 
environment, a limited understanding of the local language
+
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.  
and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American
+
 
are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk.
+
The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the  
Property theft and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents
+
 
of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all
+
tools they need to function in the safest and most secure way  
Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious
+
 
personal safety problems. In addition, more than 83 percent
+
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.  
of Volunteers surveyed in the 2008 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, minimize and manage the risks you
 
may encounter.
 
  
 
===Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk===
 
===Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk===
  
There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s
+
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).
risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control.
+
 
By far the most common crime incidents that Volunteers
+
* 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.
experience are thefts. Frequently these occur in crowded
+
* 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.  
locations, such as markets or on public transportation,
+
* 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.
or are due to Volunteers leaving items unattended. More
+
* Relationship to assailant: In most assaults, the Volunteer did not know the assailant.
serious assaults, however, do occasionally occur. Based on
+
* Consumption of alcohol: Forty percent of all assaults involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.
information gathered from incident reports worldwide in
+
 
2007, the following factors stand out as risk characteristics
+
 
for crimes against Volunteers, many of which can be avoided
+
===Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk===
with appropriate actions. Assaults consist of physical and
+
 
sexual assaults committed against Volunteers; property crimes
+
Before and during service, your training will address these areas of concern so that you can reduce the risks you face.  
include robbery, burglary, theft, and vandalism.
 
  
* Location: Most assaults (53 percent) occurred when Volunteers were in public areas (e.g., street, park, beach, public buildings). Specifically, 36 percent of assaults took place when Volunteers were away from their sites. Most property crimes occurred in the Volunteer’s residence or another Volunteer’s residence, followed closely by public areas. Forty-eight percent of property crimes occurred when Volunteers were away from their sites
+
For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:
  
* Time: Assaults usually took place during the evening, between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.— though the single hour with the largest percentage of assaults was 1:00 a.m.(8 percent) Property crimes were more common in the middle of the day, from noon to 9 p.m.
+
<u>Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft: </u>
* Day: Assaults and property crimes were more commonly reported on weekends (48 percent and 49 percent, respectively).
 
* Absence of others: Assaults and property crimes (64 percent and 53 percent, respectively) occured more frequently when the Volunteer was alone.
 
* Relationship to assailant: In most assaults and property crimes (64 percent and 85 percent), the Volunteer did not know or could not identify the assailant.
 
* Consumption of alcohol: 23 percent of all assaults and 4 percent of all property crimes involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.
 
  
Risk factors can vary within countries throughout the world
+
* Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel
that are served by the Peace Corps. A Volunteer in Ethiopia
+
* Avoid high-crime areas per Peace Corps guidance
may face risks specific to this country in addition to risks
+
* Know the vocabulary to get help in an emergency
associated with living in a developing country.
+
* 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
  
===Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk===
+
 +
 
 +
===Support from Staff===
  
Before and during service, your training will address these
+
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.  
areas of concern so you can reduce the risks you face. For
 
example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:
 
  
Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft:
+
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.
  
* Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel
+
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.
* 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:
+
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.
  
* Live with a local family or on a family compound
+
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 Guyana 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.  
* Put strong locks on doors and keep valuables in a lock box or trunk
 
* Leave irreplaceable objects at home in the U.S.
 
* Purchase the Peace Corps recommended personal property insurance
 
* Follow Peace Corps guidelines on maintaining home security
 
  
Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of assault:
+
To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:  
  
* Make local friends with local people who are respected in the community
+
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.
* 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 trusted by your community whenever possible
 
* Avoid known high crime areas
 
* Limit alcohol consumption
 
  
===Support from Staff===
+
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).
  
In March 2003, the Peace Corps created the Office of
+
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.  
Safety and Security with its mission to “foster improved
 
communication, coordination, oversight, and accountability of
 
all Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts.” This office is led
 
by an associate director for safety and security who reports to
 
the Peace Corps Director and includes divisions which focus
 
on Volunteer safety and overseas security and crime statistics
 
and analysis.
 
  
If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident,
+
===What if you become a victim of a violent crime?===
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
 
the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as
 
needed. After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace
 
Corps staff members provide support by reassessing the
 
Volunteer’s worksite 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
+
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.  
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.
 
  
===Crime Data for Ethiopia===
+
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.
  
The country-specific data chart below shows the incidence
+
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.  
rates and the average number of incidents of the major types
 
of safety incidents reported by Peace Corps Volunteers/
 
trainees in Ethiopia as compared to all other Africa region
 
programs as a whole, from 20022004–20062008. It is
 
presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for
 
statistical accuracy.
 
  
To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of
+
Country directors and medical officers are required to report
the graph is provided as follows:
 
  
The incidence rate for each type of crime is the number of
+
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.  
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
+
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.  
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); other physical assault (attacking without
 
a weapon with minor injuries); other 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
+
===Security Issues in Guyana===
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.
 
  
Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of serious crimes
+
When it comes to your safety and security in the Peace Corps, you have to be willing to adapt your behavior and lifestyle to minimize the potential for being a target of crime. As with anywhere in the world, crime exists in Guyana. You can reduce your risk by avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable and by taking precautions. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in 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, naturally, crimes that occur overseas are investigated
 
and prosecuted by local authorities through the local courts
 
system. If you are the victim of a crime, it is up to you if you
 
wish to pursue prosecution. If you decide to prosecute, Peace
 
Corps will be there to assist you. The Office of Safety and
 
Security, through our regionally-based Peace Corps safety and
 
security officers, will work with the security officer at the U.S.
 
embassy and the staff at the Peace Corps office in-country
 
to coordinate with local police and prosecutors. One of our
 
tasks is to ensure you are fully informed of your options and
 
understand how the local legal process works. We are here to
 
provide support and assistance every step of the way. Peace
 
Corps will help you ensure your rights are protected to the
 
fullest extent possible under the laws of the country.
 
If you are the victim of a serious crime, get to a safe location
 
as quickly as possible and contact your Peace Corps office. It’s
 
important that you notify Peace Corps as soon as you can so
 
we can get you the help you need.
 
  
===Security Issues in Ethiopia===
+
Guyana is considered a low-risk country for terrorist activity, but a high-risk one for petty crimes and aggravated assaults, including the use of weapons. As in the United States, you cannot be too careful. Walking alone at night or simply being alone in an isolated area can put a person at risk of being robbed, harassed, or even physically and sexually assaulted.
  
When it comes to your safety and security in the Peace Corps,
+
In late 2002 and early 2003, there was an upsurge in drive-by killings, shootings, kidnappings, and armed robberies. However, security forces are working hard to bring these crimes to an end, and more recently, there has been a marked decline in criminal activity.  
you have to be willing to adapt your behavior and lifestyle to
 
minimize the potential for being a target for crime. As with
 
anywhere in the world, crime does exist in Ethiopia. You can
 
reduce your risk by avoiding situations that make you feel
 
uncomfortable and by taking precautions. Crime at the village
 
or town level is less frequent than in the large cities; people
 
know each other and generally are less likely to steal from
 
their neighbors. Tourist attractions in large towns are favorite
 
worksites for pickpockets. The following are safety concerns
 
in Ethiopia of which you should be aware:
 
  
Major Ethiopian cities are growing at a rapid rate, and with
+
Factors that contribute greatly to Volunteers’ safety under these circumstances are minimizing high-risk behaviors like going out alone late at night and living alone rather than with a family; following community standards for behavior; using “street smart” common sense; and complying with the Peace Corps’ safety and security guidance. Should you become a victim of a physical or sexual assault during your Peace Corps service, Peace Corps staff will be there to assist you. It is important that you involve the medical office to receive appropriate care, including care for your emotional well-being, as well as to address legal issues. Both the medical staff and the safety and security coordinator will keep all information confidential.  
increasing economic difficulties, they are becoming more
 
dangerous. There are increases in the number of beggars,
 
street children, and violent crimes in all the large cities
 
of Ethiopia.
 
  
Travel is by far one of the biggest concerns for Volunteers
+
The definition of what constitutes sexual harassment differs from culture to culture. What may be considered inappropriate in a professional or social situation in the United States may be considered the norm in Guyana. Female trainees and Volunteers are occasionally subjected to comments with sexual overtones. It is a part of the Guyanese culture for a man to make comments to a woman he finds attractive. Such comments sometimes occur in the workplace, a situation that might constitute sexual harassment in the United States. Male trainees and Volunteers may find themselves in uncomfortable situations as well. For example, a Guyanese man may discuss women in a way that a male trainee or Volunteer finds offensive.  
in Ethiopia. The safest response is to avoid travel whenever
 
possible; yet, the reality is that for work, medical, or other
 
reasons Volunteers do travel from time to time. As part of
 
Peace Corps/Ethiopia’s overall preventive strategy to reduce
 
road travel, the post has developed a safety and security
 
plan that includes bringing service closer to Volunteers
 
(e.g., conducting medical clinics at regional offices and
 
conducting regional meetings). The post also has developed
 
detailed safety policies regarding Volunteer travel. Regional
 
meetings provide opportunities to review safety and security
 
information at Volunteer sites, discuss preventive strategies,
 
and review or revise locator maps and the emergency
 
action plan.
 
  
===Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime===
+
You will have to find ways to cope with such situations. While we encourage you to ignore inappropriate comments or unwanted attention, this does not mean that you are expected to put up with all harassment. As in the United States, each individual needs to decide where to draw the line. Current Volunteers and staff are good resources for dealing with these issues.
  
You must be prepared to take on a large degree of
+
===Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime ===
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 Ethiopia, 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 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 Ethiopia may require that you accept some
 
restrictions on your current lifestyle.
 
  
Volunteers tend to attract a lot of attention both in large cities
+
You must be prepared to take on a large degree of responsibility for your own safety. Only you can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your house is secure, and develop relationships in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. In coming to Guyana, do what you would do if you moved to a new city in the United States:
and at their sites, but they are more likely to receive negative
 
attention in highly populated centers, and away from their
 
support network (“family,” friends, and colleagues) who look
 
out for them. While whistles and exclamations may be fairly
 
common on the street, this behavior can be reduced if you
 
dress conservatively, abide by local cultural norms, and do not
 
respond to unwanted attention. In addition, keep your money
 
out of sight by using an undergarment money pouch, the kind
 
that hangs around your neck and 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.
 
  
Peace Corps/Ethiopia has developed a comprehensive
+
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 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 Guyana may require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.  
Volunteer safety and security handbook that will be issued to
 
you when you arrive in-country.
 
  
===Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Ethiopia===
+
Volunteers attract unwanted attention both 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 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 hangs around your neck and stays hidden under your shirt or inside your coat.
  
The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to
+
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.  
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.
 
Ethiopia’s in-country safety program is outlined below.
 
  
The Peace Corps/Ethiopia office will keep you informed of any
+
===Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Guyana ===
issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information
 
sharing. Regular updates will be provided in Volunteer
 
newsletters and in memorandums from the country director.
 
In the event of a critical situation or emergency, you will be
 
contacted through the emergency communication network.
 
An important component of the capacity of Peace Corps to
 
keep you informed is your buy-in to the partnership concept
 
with the Peace Corps staff. It is expected that you will do
 
your part in ensuring that Peace Corps staff members are
 
kept apprised of your movements in-country so that they are
 
capable of informing you.
 
  
Volunteer training will include sessions on specific safety and
+
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.  Guyana’s in-country safety program is outlined below.  
security issues in Ethiopia. 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
 
aspects, health, and other components of training. You will be
 
expected to successfully complete all training competencies in
 
a variety of areas, including safety and security, as a condition
 
of service.
 
  
Certain site selection criteria are used to determine safe
+
The Peace Corps/Guyana office will keep you informed of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates will be provided in Volunteer newsletters and in memorandums from the country director. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, you will be contacted through the emergency communication network.  
housing for Volunteers before their arrival. 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 the Volunteer’s
 
arrival to ensure placement in appropriate, safe, and secure
 
housing and worksites. 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; different housing options and
 
living arrangements; and other Volunteer support needs.
 
  
You will also learn about Peace Corps/Ethiopia’s detailed
+
Volunteer training will include sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Guyana. 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 your two-year service and is integrated into the cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.  
emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of
 
civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you arrive
 
at your site, you will complete and submit a site locator form
 
with your address, contact information, and a map to your
 
house. If there is a security threat, you will gather with other
 
Volunteers in Ethiopia 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
+
Certain site selection criteria are used to determine safe housing for Volunteers before their arrival. 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 the 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 support needs.  
to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers
 
immediately report any security incident to the Peace
 
Corps office. 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.
 
  
 +
You will also learn about Peace Corps/Guyana’s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you arrive at your site, you will complete and submit a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house. If there is a security threat, you will gather with other Volunteers in Guyana 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 immediately report any security incident to the Peace Corps safety and security coordinator or 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 current and future Volunteers.
  
See also: [[Ethiopia]]
+
[[Category:Guyana]]
 +
[[Category:Health and Safety]]

Revision as of 00:45, 13 March 2009


Health care and safety in [[{{#explode:Health care and safety in Guyana| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Guyana| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Guyana| |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.

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  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Guyana| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Guyana| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Guyana| |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. The Peace Corps in Guyana maintains a clinic with one full-time medical officer dedicated to Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services are provided by referral to in-country consultants. Testing and basic treatment are also available in Guyana at local, American-standard hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to a medical facility in either Panama or the United States.

Health Issues in Guyana

Guyana is a tropical country with a dense population along its coastline and smaller, scattered groups in the more remote interior. As in other tropical countries, there is the risk of exposure to mosquito-, food-, and water-borne diseases. Snake and animal bites pose less of a risk.

Insect-borne diseases: All mosquito-borne parasitic infections exist in Guyana, including malaria, filariasis, and dengue febrile. The interior of the country has the highest incidence of malaria, with fewer cases reported on the coast. Filariasis and dengue fever are increasingly affecting communities on the coast, especially during rainy seasons, while isolated cases of leishmaniasis, a fly-borne disease, occur primarily in the interior and on the Brazilian border. Volunteers in Guyana are required to take malaria prophylaxis throughout their Peace Corps service and are encouraged to protect themselves by using insect repellents, sleeping under treated nets (which Peace Corps/Guyana provides), and wearing appropriate clothing. Mosquitos in Guyana are chloroquine-resistant, hence Volunteers are required to take Larium or other recommended prophylaxis.

Food- and water-borne diseases: The country’s heavy rainfalls and high tides often create floods on the coast and in some remote communities, resulting in outbreaks of water-borne infections. These include amebic and bacillary dysentery, typhoid fever, helminthic infections, hepatitis A, and other diarrheal diseases. To decrease the risk of infection, Volunteers are provided with training on water purification methods and are encouraged to boil their drinking water as an extra safety precaution. Volunteers are also given typhoid vaccines, however this only provides 70 percent protection.

Animal bites and snake bites: Although there is a low risk of being bitten by a poisonous snake in coastal areas, bites can occur inland in jungle areas. There have been no reported cases of rabies among dogs. However, because Volunteers may travel to neighboring countries that do have rabies, they are given rabies pre-exposure vaccines. Volunteers are discouraged from keeping monkeys and snakes as pets for health reasons.

HIV/AIDS: Guyana has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in South America, and other STIs are also prevalent. Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV and other STIs. You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To reduce risk, use a condom every time you have sex. You will receive more information from the Peace Corps medical officer about this important issue. The Peace Corps medical unit stocks condoms.

Substance abuse: There has been an increase in illegal drug use in Guyana. The Peace Corps prohibits the use of all illegal drugs, including marijuana, by Volunteers and trainees. Invitees who use illegal substances should not accept an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps. Invitees should disclose prior use of illegal drugs/substances for medical clearance. Although Guyanese social occasions often include alcohol consumption, Volunteers are expected to avoid excessive use of alcohol, which is often a factor in Volunteer safety incidents. You will need to exercise your good judgment under sometimes difficult circumstances, including social pressure to drink in excess. Peace Corps/Guyana’s alcohol policy provides further guidance to Volunteers.

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 Guyana, you will receive a medical handbook. During 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 medical office. However, during this time, 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 in-country, and it may take several weeks for shipments to arrive. Also, please try to switch to generic forms of any medications you take before coming to Guyana as the name-brand may not be available.

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

Maintaining Your Health

As a Volunteer, you must accept considerable responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. The most important of your responsibilities in Guyana is to take the following preventive measures:

Many diseases that affect Volunteers are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken. These diseases include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, dysentery, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific recommendations for your site in Guyana during training.

Malaria is endemic in Guyana, so it is extremely important to fully comply with the recommended drug regimen for prevention of malaria, a disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Failure to adhere to the regimen can result in administrative separation.

Check with the Peace Corps medical officer before taking any locally purchased or prescribed medications. Some drugsthat have not been approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration are available in developing countries, and many drugs that require a prescription in the United States can be purchased over-the-counter in other countries.

Traveling around Guyana requires water travel. Trainees are encouraged to learn how to swim before arrival and are provided with information during pre-service training on water travel. Volunteers are provided with life jackets and are expected to wear them when traveling by boat.

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 Peace Corps medical office. Birth control pills do not prevent the spread of HIV.

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 the medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.

Culture shock and adjustment to a new country can be a trigger for a Volunteer who is mentally or emotionally challenged. Volunteers must be aware of the limitations of their medical conditions and understand Guyana will not be able to adjust to their needs, but rather, they will need to adjust to Guyana.

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. Guyana currently cannot provide the required services for pregnant Volunteers in-country.

Feminine hygiene products are available for you to purchase at the local market. The medical unit will provide them only in cases of emergency. 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
American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook
Antacid tablets
Antibiotic ointment
Antifungal cream (Tinactin)
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner
Band-Aids
Butterfly closures
Cepacol lozenges
Condoms
Dental floss
Diphenhyrdramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl)
Insect repellent stick
Iodine tablets (for water purification)
Lip balm
Mosquito nets
Oral rehydration salts
Oral thermometer
Pseudophedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed)
Robitussin DM cough lozenges
Scissors
Sterile gauze pads
Sunscreen
Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine)
Tweezers

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 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 your pre-departure orientation. 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 Guyana. 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. You may want to consider switching from a name brand to generic drugs as your Peace Corps medical officer may not be able to purchase your name brand prescription. As well, please be advised that the medical office does not carry every type of birth control pill. 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. The Peace Corps 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. The Peace Corps discourages you from using contact lenses during your Peace Corps 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 healthcare 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 Guyana 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 Guyana

When it comes to your safety and security in the Peace Corps, you have to be willing to adapt your behavior and lifestyle to minimize the potential for being a target of crime. As with anywhere in the world, crime exists in Guyana. You can reduce your risk by avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable and by taking precautions. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in 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.

Guyana is considered a low-risk country for terrorist activity, but a high-risk one for petty crimes and aggravated assaults, including the use of weapons. As in the United States, you cannot be too careful. Walking alone at night or simply being alone in an isolated area can put a person at risk of being robbed, harassed, or even physically and sexually assaulted.

In late 2002 and early 2003, there was an upsurge in drive-by killings, shootings, kidnappings, and armed robberies. However, security forces are working hard to bring these crimes to an end, and more recently, there has been a marked decline in criminal activity.

Factors that contribute greatly to Volunteers’ safety under these circumstances are minimizing high-risk behaviors like going out alone late at night and living alone rather than with a family; following community standards for behavior; using “street smart” common sense; and complying with the Peace Corps’ safety and security guidance. Should you become a victim of a physical or sexual assault during your Peace Corps service, Peace Corps staff will be there to assist you. It is important that you involve the medical office to receive appropriate care, including care for your emotional well-being, as well as to address legal issues. Both the medical staff and the safety and security coordinator will keep all information confidential.

The definition of what constitutes sexual harassment differs from culture to culture. What may be considered inappropriate in a professional or social situation in the United States may be considered the norm in Guyana. Female trainees and Volunteers are occasionally subjected to comments with sexual overtones. It is a part of the Guyanese culture for a man to make comments to a woman he finds attractive. Such comments sometimes occur in the workplace, a situation that might constitute sexual harassment in the United States. Male trainees and Volunteers may find themselves in uncomfortable situations as well. For example, a Guyanese man may discuss women in a way that a male trainee or Volunteer finds offensive.

You will have to find ways to cope with such situations. While we encourage you to ignore inappropriate comments or unwanted attention, this does not mean that you are expected to put up with all harassment. As in the United States, each individual needs to decide where to draw the line. Current Volunteers and staff are good resources for dealing with these issues.

Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime

You must be prepared to take on a large degree of responsibility for your own safety. Only you can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your house is secure, and develop relationships in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. In coming to Guyana, 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 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 Guyana may require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.

Volunteers attract unwanted attention both 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 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 hangs around your neck and 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 Guyana

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. Guyana’s in-country safety program is outlined below.

The Peace Corps/Guyana office will keep you informed of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates will be provided in Volunteer newsletters and in memorandums from the country director. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, you will be contacted through the emergency communication network.

Volunteer training will include sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Guyana. 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 your two-year service and is integrated into the cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.

Certain site selection criteria are used to determine safe housing for Volunteers before their arrival. 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 the 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 support needs.

You will also learn about Peace Corps/Guyana’s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you arrive at your site, you will complete and submit a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house. If there is a security threat, you will gather with other Volunteers in Guyana 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 immediately report any security incident to the Peace Corps safety and security coordinator or 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 current and future Volunteers.