MOU signed between Health Min and Peace Corps

– to focus on Adolescent Health

DPI, Guyana, Friday, July 20, 2018

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed today, between the Ministry of Public Health and Peace Corp Guyana, maximizing volunteer work in adolescent health initiatives. This MOU comes to an end in 2025.

Present at the signing were Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, US Ambassador Perry Holloway and Peace Corp Country Director, Kury Cobham.

For the next seven years, the Peace Corp volunteer group will continue the work being executed in Guyana’s social sectors including adolescent health and wellbeing, environmental education and early childhood literacy.

Cobham said the MOU is a timely move in targetting Guyana’s future generation.
“Youth in Guyana face a range of adolescent health problems. For example, suicide and other mental health issues among adolescents are complex and deeply rooted in the household environment, family dynamics and general pressures placed on youth. Compounding this complex environment, youth are faced with problems such as bullying, poor body image, low self-esteem, inadequate coping mechanisms and lack of psychosocial support.”

The peace corps health volunteers will support a wide range of adolescent health initiatives from teaching the Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum to leading health clubs in schools and connecting adolescents to Ministry of Public Health’s youth-friendly health services.

Minister Lawrence noted that adolescent health is among the priorities of the ministry and assured that the while the focus is on engaging all adolescents, special attention will be given to those in hinterland regions.

“The Ministry of Public Health has made adolescent health a priority and more particularly for Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine where adolescent pregnancy is rife. The ministry welcomes the involvement and support of the peace corps in this programme as we target this vulnerable group.”

This new project framework, focusing on adolescent health initiative will place peace corps volunteers in areas where a particular impact is expected to be made. Volunteers will work directly with Guyanese adolescents providing them with the necessary information, services, support and inspiration they need as they grow and develop.

The country director added that “young people often face barriers to sexual and reproductive health information and services. The absence of age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health education for in and out of school adolescents leaves teens making uninformed or misinformed and often risky decisions.”

One-eighth of a cohort of about 80 volunteers in Guyana has been assigned to the health sector. Volunteers currently under training will be deployed to various areas including Charity, Wakenaam, Parika, Fort Wellington, Bush Lot, Port Mourant and Skeldon other volunteers will be deployed to Bartica and other villages in Region Seven and Nine.

The Last MOU signed between Ministry of Public Health and Peace Corps Guyana was in 2012.

By: Delicia Haynes.
Images: Giovanni Gajie.