Difference between pages "Health care and safety in Costa Rica" and "Health care and safety in Liberia"

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{{Health_care_and_safety_by_country}}
  
 +
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good
 +
health and safety of each Volunteer. Peace Corps medical
 +
programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative,
 +
approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Liberia 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 Liberia 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.
  
 +
Dental care to the level of American standards is not available
 +
in Liberia so you should not expect routine dental care
 +
during your service. Emergency dental care will be managed
 +
in-country, depending on available resources, or you will be
 +
transported regionally for further care.
  
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 Costa Rica maintains a health unit with a full-time medical officer, who takes care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Medical services may include hospitalization at authorized facilities that are located in the capital city. If you become seriously ill or the resources in-country are insufficient, the Office of Medical Services at Peace Corps headquarters may decide to medically evacuate you to the United States for further care or treatment.
+
==Health Issues in Liberia==
  
===Health Issues in Costa Rica===
+
Both plasmodium falciparum malaria and plasmodium vivax
 +
malaria are rampant in Liberia. Volunteers are required to
 +
take weekly mefloquine or daily doxycycline prophylaxis to
 +
lessen the risk of contracting this potentially deadly disease.
 +
Other recommended prevention strategies include mosquito
 +
nets and insect repellent containing DEET. The medical
 +
officer provides all necessary items for prevention
 +
and treatment.
  
Health conditions in Costa Rica are typical of those found in tropical countries. Most illnesses can be avoided by using common sense and following basic preventive measures.  
+
Additional vector-borne diseases are filariasis, typhus,
 +
leishmaniasis, and Lassa fever. Tuberculosis, meningitis,
 +
typhoid, and cholera, as well as a variety of bacterial and
 +
parasitic diarrheal diseases, are also endemic, mandating that
 +
proper water and food safety measures be taken on a daily
 +
basis. Bacterial skin diseases are easily contracted in a tropical
 +
climate and heatstroke and sunburn are also of concern.
  
Because you will be serving in an area where malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, is prevalent, you will be given and required to take an approved antimalarial drug while you are in-country for your entire service. Humidity and heat promote the growth of skin infections, which you can help prevent by keeping your body clean and dry. Environmental pollution, mold, and pollen found throughout the country year-round can aggravate existing environmental allergies. (Because it is very difficult, even in the United States, to identify the causing allergen, the Peace Corps does not provide allergy testing.) Other illnesses that exist in Costa Rica are dengue fever, rabies, tuberculosis, intestinal parasites, hepatitis A and B, and infection with STDs, including HIV/AIDS.  
+
A health manual specific for Liberia will be provided with
 +
up-to-date information on each disease and how to prevent it,
 +
but it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these diseases
 +
before your arrival.
  
 
===Helping You Stay Healthy===
 
===Helping You Stay Healthy===
  
The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy. 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.  
+
The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary
 +
inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy.
 +
Upon your arrival in Liberia, 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 training, you will have access to basic 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 we 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.  
+
Immediately after arrival and during pre-service training, you
 +
will have access to basic medical supplies through the medical
 +
officer. However, you will be responsible for your own initial
 +
supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical
 +
supplies you require, as the Peace Corps will not have these
 +
immediately available. 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 a basic nurse assessment at midservice and a physical examination for clearance at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer in Costa Rica will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Costa Rica, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.  
+
You will have physicals at midservice and at the end of your
 +
service. If you develop a serious medical problem during
 +
your service, the medical officer in Liberia will consult with
 +
the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is
 +
determined that your condition cannot be treated in Liberia,
 +
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 for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The old adage “An ounce of prevention …” becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. The most important of your responsibilities in Costa Rica is to take preventive measures for the following:  
+
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 …” 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 Liberia is to take the following
 +
preventive measures:
  
Many illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely preventable if proper precautions are taken, such as boiling drinking water and washing fruits and vegetables with soap and water. These illnesses include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, dysentery, tapeworms, and typhoid fever. Your medical officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation in Costa Rica during pre-service training.
+
• Take your prescribed malaria chemoprophylaxis
 +
• Use your mosquito net
 +
• Follow proper food preparation and water decontamination recommendations
 +
• Follow all other avoidance techniques for malaria, food/ water borne diseases, and other health ailments that will be discussed with you soon after your arrival
  
Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection 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.  
+
Many illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely
 +
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 Liberia.
  
Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Your medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available without charge from the medical officer.  
+
Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection
 +
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.
  
A male Peace Corps Volunteer who fathers a child out of wedlock may be administratively separated if the country director determines that the Volunteer’s action has impaired his ability to perform his assignment or has violated local laws or customs. Absent administrative action, the Peace Corps will pay the prenatal, delivery, and postpartum costs for a non-Volunteer spouse or unmarried partner only if the Volunteer has taken action to acknowledge paternity of the child and only for costs incurred while the trainee or Volunteer is in service. Paternity legislation in Costa Rica states that DNA testing is mandatory when a woman claims a man is the father of her child. If the test establishes paternity, the father automatically must pay child support; if he does not comply, he can be jailed.
+
Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means
 
+
of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Your
It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office for scheduled immunizations, and that you let your medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.  
+
medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate
 +
method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods
 +
are available without charge from the medical officer.
 +
It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the
 +
medical office or other designated facility for scheduled
 +
immunizations, and that you let 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 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.  
+
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.
  
Feminine hygiene products are available for you to purchase on the local market. If you require a specific feminine hygiene product, please bring a six-month supply with you.  
+
If feminine hygiene products are not available for you to
 +
purchase on the local market, the Peace Corps medical officer
 +
in Liberia will provide them. If you require a specific 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 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.  
+
The Peace Corps medical officer will provide you with a 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====
 
====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 (Tums) <br>
Antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B) <br>
+
Antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B) <br>
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens) <br>
+
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens) <br>
Band-Aids <br>
+
Band-Aids <br>
Butterfly closures <br>
+
Butterfly closures <br>
Cepacol lozenges <br>
+
Calamine lotion <br>
Condoms <br>
+
Cepacol lozenges <br>
Dental floss <br>
+
Condoms <br>
Diphenhydramine HCL 25&nbsp;mg (Benadryl) <br>
+
Dental floss <br>
Insect repellent stick (Cutter’s) <br>
+
Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl) <br>
Iodine tablets (for water purification) <br>
+
Insect repellent stick (Cutter’s) <br>
Lip balm (Chapstick) <br>
+
Iodine tablets (for water purification) <br>
Oral rehydration salts <br>
+
Lip balm (Chapstick) <br>
Pseudoephedrine HCL 30&nbsp;mg (Sudafed) <br>
+
Oral rehydration salts <br>
Robitussin-DM lozenges (for cough) <br>
+
Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit) <br>
Scissors <br>
+
Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed) <br>
Sterile gauze pads <br>
+
Robitussin-DM lozenges (for cough) <br>
Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine) <br>
+
Scissors <br>
Tinactin (antifungal cream) <br>
+
Sterile gauze pads <br>
Tweezers <br>
+
Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine) <br>
 +
Tinactin (antifungal cream) <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, 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 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 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 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 Costa Rica. You do not need to begin taking malaria medication prior to departure.  
+
If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact
 +
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 Liberia. 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, we will order refills during your service.  
+
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.
  
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
 +
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.
  
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 are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age,
 +
or have a health condition that may restrict your future
 +
participation in health care plans, you may wish to consult
 +
an insurance specialist about unique coverage needs before
 +
your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary
 +
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 pre-existing conditions
 +
might prevent you from re-enrolling in your current plan
 +
when you return home.
  
If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs with you—a pair and a spare. If a pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it, using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglasses form during your examination. We discourage you from using contact lenses during your service to reduce your risk of developing a serious infection or other eye disease. Most Peace Corps countries do not have appropriate water and sanitation to support eye care with the use of contact lenses. The Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or associated solutions unless an ophthalmologist has recommended their use for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps’ Office of Medical Services has given approval.
+
==Safety and Security—Our Partnership==
  
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.  
+
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 theft 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.
  
===Safety and Security—Our Partnership ===
+
Beyond knowing that Peace Corps approaches safety and
 +
security as a partnership with you, it might be helpful to see
 +
how this partnership works. The Peace Corps has policies,
 +
procedures, and training in place to promote your safety. We
 +
depend on you to follow those policies and to put into practice
 +
what you have learned. An example of how this works in
 +
practice—in this case to help manage the risk of burglary—is:
  
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. Petty 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 83 percent of Volunteers surveyed say they would join the Peace Corps again.  
+
* Peace Corps assesses the security environment where you will live and work
 +
* Peace Corps inspects the house where you will live according to established security criteria
 +
* Peace Corp provides you with resources to take measures, such as installing new locks
 +
* Peace Corps ensures you are welcomed by host country authorities in your new community
 +
* Peace Corps responds to security concerns that you raise
 +
* You lock your doors and windows
 +
* You adopt a lifestyle appropriate to the community where you live
 +
* You get to know neighbors
 +
* You decide if purchasing personal articles insurance is appropriate for you
 +
* You don’t change residences before being authorized by Peace Corps
 +
* You communicate concerns that you have to Peace Corps staff.
  
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 information.
+
This Welcome Book contains sections on: Living Conditions
 
+
and Volunteer Lifestyle; Peace Corps Training; and Your
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.  
+
Health Care and Safety. All of these sections include
 +
important safety and security information to help you
 +
understand this partnership. The Peace Corps makes every
 +
effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the
 +
safest 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, reduce, 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 risk, many of which are in the Volunteer’s control. Based on information gathered from incident reports worldwide in 2003, 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).  
+
There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer’s
 +
risk, many of which are within the Volunteer’s control. By far
 +
the most common crime that Volunteers experience is theft.
 +
Thefts often occur when Volunteers are away from their
 +
sites, in crowded locations (such as markets or on public
 +
transportation), and when leaving items unattended. More
 +
serious assaults, however, do occasionally occur.
 +
Before you depart for Liberia there are several measures you
 +
can take to reduce your risk:
  
* Location: Most crimes occurred when Volunteers were in public areas (e.g., street, park, beach, public buildings).  Specifically, 47 percent of assaults took place when Volunteers were away from their sites.  
+
* Leave valuable objects in the U.S.
* Time of day: Assaults usually took place on the weekend during the late evening between 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.— most often occurring around 1:00 a.m.  
+
* Leave copies of important documents and account numbers in the U.S. with someone you trust.
* Absence of others: More than 75 percent of crime incidents occurred when a Volunteer was unaccompanied. 
+
* Purchase a hidden money pouch or "dummy" wallet as a decoy
* Relationship to assailant: In most assaults, the Volunteer did not know the assailant.
+
* Purchase personal articles insurance
* Consumption of alcohol: Almost a third of all assaults involved alcohol consumption by Volunteers and/or assailants.
+
  
===Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk===
+
After you arrive in Liberia, you will receive more detailed
 +
information about common crimes, factors that contribute to
 +
Volunteer risk, and local strategies to reduce that risk. For
 +
example, Volunteers in Liberia learn to:
  
Before and during service, your training will address these areas of concern so that you can reduce the risks you face.
+
* Choose safe routes and times for travel, and travel with someone trusted by the community whenever possible
 +
* Make sure one’s personal appearance is respectful of local customs
 +
• Avoid high-crime areas
 +
• Know the local language to get help in an emergency
 +
• Make friends with local people who are respected in
 +
the community
 +
• Limit alcohol consumption
  
For example, here are some strategies Volunteers employ:
+
As you can see from this list, you have to be willing to work
 +
hard and adapt your lifestyle to minimize the potential for
 +
being a target for crime. As with anywhere in the world, crime
 +
does exist in Liberia. You can reduce your risk by avoiding
 +
situations that place you at risk and by taking precautions.
 +
Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in 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.
  
<u>Strategies to reduce the risk/impact of theft: </u>
+
The following are other security concerns in Liberia of which
 +
you should be aware:
  
* Know the environment and choose safe routes/times for travel
+
* Unsafe transportation in taxis, minibuses, and trucks
* Avoid high-crime areas per Peace Corps guidance
+
* Pickpockets at taxi stations
* Know the vocabulary to get help in an emergency
+
* Scams and team robbery in taxis
* Carry valuables in different pockets/places
+
* Discos and nightclubs in Monrovia, particularly the ones designated as off-limits
* 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 ===
+
Volunteers tend to attract a lot of attention both in large cities
 +
and at their sites, but they are more likely to receive negative
 +
attention in highly populated centers, and away from their
 +
support network —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 respond
 +
according to the training you will receive.
  
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;
+
===Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime===
  
Information and Personnel Security; and Emergency Preparedness, Plans, Training and Exercise. The safety and security team also tracks crime statistics, identifies trends in criminal activity, and highlights potential safety risks to Volunteers.  
+
You must be prepared to take on a large degree of
 +
responsibility for your own safety. 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. While the factors that contribute
 +
to your risk in Liberia may be different, in many ways you
 +
can better assure your safety by doing what you would do
 +
if you moved to a new city anywhere: 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 Liberia will
 +
require that you accept some restrictions on your
 +
current lifestyle.
  
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.
+
===Support from Staff===
  
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.
+
If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident,
 
+
Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace
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.  
+
Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents
 
+
of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority
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 Costa Rica as compared to all other Inter-America and Pacific region programs as a whole, from 1999–2003. It is presented to you in a somewhat technical manner for statistical accuracy.
+
for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure the
 
+
Volunteer is safe and receiving any medical treatment that
To fully appreciate the collected data below, an explanation of the graph is provided as follows:
+
is required. After assuring the safety of the Volunteer, Peace
 
+
Corps staff members provide support by reassessing the
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.
+
Volunteer’s worksite and housing arrangements and making
 
+
any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the
The chart is separated into the eight most commonly occurring assault types. 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).
+
incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace
 
+
Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their
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.
+
rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the
 
+
crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as
===Security Issues in Costa Rica===
+
they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also
 
+
to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers
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 does exist in Costa Rica. 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 will not steal from their neighbors. Tourist attractions in large towns, for instance, are favorite work sites for pickpockets.
+
decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the
 
+
prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist
The most common safety risks to Volunteers in Costa Rica are petty crimes like pickpocketing, theft, robbery, and simple assault. Aggravated assault, sexual assault, and rape also occur, as in any other place in the world, so Volunteers must avoid unsafe environments and situations.
+
if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the
 
+
time of the incident.
===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 relations in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. In coming to Costa Rica, 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 Costa Rica may require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.
+
===Crime in Liberia===
  
Volunteers attract a lot of attention in large cities and at their sites, but they are likely to receive far 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. 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. You should always walk with a companion at night.  
+
Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of serious crimes and
 +
crimes that do occur overseas are investigated and prosecuted
 +
by local authorities through the local criminal justice system.
 +
If you are the victim of a crime, you will decide if you wish to
 +
pursue prosecution. If you decide to prosecute, Peace Corps
 +
will be there to assist you. One of our tasks is to ensure you
 +
are fully informed of your options and understand how the
 +
local legal process works. Peace Corps will help you ensure
 +
your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under
 +
the laws of the country.
  
===Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Costa Rica ===
+
If you are the victim of a serious crime, you will learn how to
 +
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 Peace Corps can provide you with the
 +
help you need.
  
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. Costa Rica’s in-country safety program is outlined below.
+
===Volunteer Safety Support in Liberia===
  
The Peace Corps/Costa Rica office will keep Volunteers 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, Volunteers will be contacted through the emergency communication network.  
+
The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan
 +
to help you stay safe during your 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.
 +
Liberia’s in-country safety program is outlined below.
  
Volunteer training will include sessions to prepare you for specific safety and security issues in Costa Rica. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural, health, and other components of training.  
+
The Peace Corps/Liberia 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.
 +
An important component of the capacity of the 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.
  
Certain site selection criteria are used to determine safe housing for Volunteers before their arrival. 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; different housing options and living arrangements; and other Volunteer support needs.  
+
Volunteer training will include sessions on specific safety and
 +
security issues in Liberia. 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.
  
You will also learn about Peace Corps/Costa Rica’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, Volunteers will receive instructions from the Peace Corps about the appropriate action to take. This might include gathering with other Volunteers at a predetermined location until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.  
+
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 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.
  
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 medical officer. The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner, and it collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to future Volunteers.  
+
You will also learn about Peace Corps/Liberia’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 Liberia at predetermined locations until the
 +
situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate.
  
[[Category:Costa Rica]]
+
Finally, in order for the Peace Corps to be fully responsive
[[Category:Health and Safety]]
+
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.

Revision as of 09:34, 25 July 2010


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

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

  • [[Packing list for {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |7}}]]
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  • [[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |7}}]]
  • [[Health care and safety in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |7}}]]
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  • [[FAQs about Peace Corps in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |7}}]]
  • [[History of the Peace Corps in {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |5}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |6}} {{#explode:Health care and safety in Liberia| |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 each Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Liberia 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 Liberia 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.

Dental care to the level of American standards is not available in Liberia so you should not expect routine dental care during your service. Emergency dental care will be managed in-country, depending on available resources, or you will be transported regionally for further care.

Health Issues in Liberia

Both plasmodium falciparum malaria and plasmodium vivax malaria are rampant in Liberia. Volunteers are required to take weekly mefloquine or daily doxycycline prophylaxis to lessen the risk of contracting this potentially deadly disease. Other recommended prevention strategies include mosquito nets and insect repellent containing DEET. The medical officer provides all necessary items for prevention and treatment.

Additional vector-borne diseases are filariasis, typhus, leishmaniasis, and Lassa fever. Tuberculosis, meningitis, typhoid, and cholera, as well as a variety of bacterial and parasitic diarrheal diseases, are also endemic, mandating that proper water and food safety measures be taken on a daily basis. Bacterial skin diseases are easily contracted in a tropical climate and heatstroke and sunburn are also of concern.

A health manual specific for Liberia will be provided with up-to-date information on each disease and how to prevent it, but it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these diseases before your arrival.

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 Liberia, 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.

Immediately after arrival and during pre-service training, you will have access to basic medical supplies through the medical officer. However, you will be responsible for your own initial supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as the Peace Corps will not have these immediately available. 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 service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer in Liberia will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Liberia, 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 …” 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 Liberia is to take the following preventive measures:

• Take your prescribed malaria chemoprophylaxis • Use your mosquito net • Follow proper food preparation and water decontamination recommendations • Follow all other avoidance techniques for malaria, food/ water borne diseases, and other health ailments that will be discussed with you soon after your arrival

Many illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely 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 Liberia.

Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection 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 of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Your medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available without charge from the medical officer. It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the medical office or other designated facility for scheduled immunizations, and that you let the medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.

Women’s Health Information

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

If feminine hygiene products are not available for you to purchase on the local market, the Peace Corps medical officer in Liberia will provide them. If you require a specific product, please bring a three-month supply with you.

Your Peace Corps Medical Kit

The Peace Corps medical officer will provide you with a 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 (Tums)
Antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymycin B)
Antiseptic antimicrobial skin cleaner (Hibiclens)
Band-Aids
Butterfly closures
Calamine lotion
Cepacol lozenges
Condoms
Dental floss
Diphenhydramine HCL 25 mg (Benadryl)
Insect repellent stick (Cutter’s)
Iodine tablets (for water purification)
Lip balm (Chapstick)
Oral rehydration salts
Oral thermometer (Fahrenheit)
Pseudoephedrine HCL 30 mg (Sudafed)
Robitussin-DM lozenges (for cough)
Scissors
Sterile gauze pads
Tetrahydrozaline eyedrops (Visine)
Tinactin (antifungal cream)
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 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 Liberia. 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 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, 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 pre-existing conditions might prevent you from re-enrolling 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 theft 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.

Beyond knowing that Peace Corps approaches safety and security as a partnership with you, it might be helpful to see how this partnership works. The Peace Corps has policies, procedures, and training in place to promote your safety. We depend on you to follow those policies and to put into practice what you have learned. An example of how this works in practice—in this case to help manage the risk of burglary—is:

  • Peace Corps assesses the security environment where you will live and work
  • Peace Corps inspects the house where you will live according to established security criteria
  • Peace Corp provides you with resources to take measures, such as installing new locks
  • Peace Corps ensures you are welcomed by host country authorities in your new community
  • Peace Corps responds to security concerns that you raise
  • You lock your doors and windows
  • You adopt a lifestyle appropriate to the community where you live
  • You get to know neighbors
  • You decide if purchasing personal articles insurance is appropriate for you
  • You don’t change residences before being authorized by Peace Corps
  • You communicate concerns that you have to Peace Corps staff.

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 to help you understand this partnership. The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the safest 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, reduce, 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. By far the most common crime that Volunteers experience is theft. Thefts often occur when Volunteers are away from their sites, in crowded locations (such as markets or on public transportation), and when leaving items unattended. More serious assaults, however, do occasionally occur. Before you depart for Liberia there are several measures you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Leave valuable objects in the U.S.
  • Leave copies of important documents and account numbers in the U.S. with someone you trust.
  • Purchase a hidden money pouch or "dummy" wallet as a decoy
  • Purchase personal articles insurance

After you arrive in Liberia, you will receive more detailed information about common crimes, factors that contribute to Volunteer risk, and local strategies to reduce that risk. For example, Volunteers in Liberia learn to:

  • Choose safe routes and times for travel, and travel with someone trusted by the community whenever possible
  • Make sure one’s personal appearance is respectful of local customs

• Avoid high-crime areas • Know the local language to get help in an emergency • Make friends with local people who are respected in the community • Limit alcohol consumption

As you can see from this list, you have to be willing to work hard and adapt your lifestyle to minimize the potential for being a target for crime. As with anywhere in the world, crime does exist in Liberia. You can reduce your risk by avoiding situations that place you at risk and by taking precautions. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in 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 other security concerns in Liberia of which you should be aware:

  • Unsafe transportation in taxis, minibuses, and trucks
  • Pickpockets at taxi stations
  • Scams and team robbery in taxis
  • Discos and nightclubs in Monrovia, particularly the ones designated as off-limits

Volunteers tend to attract a lot of attention both in large cities and at their sites, but they are more likely to receive negative attention in highly populated centers, and away from their support network —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 respond according to the training you will receive.

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. 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. While the factors that contribute to your risk in Liberia may be different, in many ways you can better assure your safety by doing what you would do if you moved to a new city anywhere: 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 Liberia will require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.

Support from Staff

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 the Volunteer is safe and receiving any medical treatment that is required. 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 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 in Liberia

Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of serious crimes and crimes that do occur overseas are investigated and prosecuted by local authorities through the local criminal justice system. If you are the victim of a crime, you will decide if you wish to pursue prosecution. If you decide to prosecute, Peace Corps will be there to assist you. One of our tasks is to ensure you are fully informed of your options and understand how the local legal process works. 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, you will learn how to 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 Peace Corps can provide you with the help you need.

Volunteer Safety Support in Liberia

The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your 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. Liberia’s in-country safety program is outlined below.

The Peace Corps/Liberia 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. An important component of the capacity of the 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 security issues in Liberia. 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 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/Liberia’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 Liberia 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 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.