Here are specific answers to some of the most common questions.
Should I bring the medications I currently use with me?
Yes, absolutely. Bring at least a three month supply of your current prescription medications. We cannot buy any replacements in country so they will have to be ordered and shipped in. We have some over-the-counter (OTC) medications available but will not supply food supplements, herbal treatments, or other alternative medicine treatments. We issue a medical kit with many popular OTCs to all Trainees. Do not bring old prescription medications for previously treated illnesses or conditions. If the condition is not addressed by the Office of Medical Services in your medical chart, we will not re-supply the prescription.
I've had some medical issues in the past, but they're better now. Do I need to disclose everything on my medical paperwork?
Absolutely, again! If you have any medical problem that has not been discussed with Peace Corps prior to arrival in country, take the time to address this now, before shipping out. Non-disclosure of a medical condition has severe consequences when found out. The change in living conditions may exacerbate any previous condition, so it is better to be up-front and discuss this with PC Washington.
If I get sick while I'm in China, how will I get medical care?
We have a well-qualified team of medical providers working in the PC office - a doctor whose specialty is gynecology, a physician assistant, and registered nurses. There is also a physician in Thailand who provides support for complicated medical conditions. We have a fully equipped medical office, a small laboratory and two exam rooms. Medical care is a 24/7 shared position. In Chengdu we have access to well equipped medical facilities which we use when a Volunteer needs more care than the PC medical office can provide. Any condition or illness we are not able to adequately manage in China can be transferred to our regional medical center in Thailand.
Can I get refills of my prescribed medication when I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer?
Yes, we will be sitting down with each and every one of the new Trainees, for a 1:1 visit, during the first few days in country. Bring your medications with you so they can be ordered right away and we can see that you have enough to last until the order is received.
Will birth control and condoms be available?
Many women come to country already on OCPs (oral contraceptives), so these will be supplied. We may ask you to switch to a similar formulation which we have in stock. Condoms are freely available for the taking, anonymously or by request in the medical office.
Are there any scary diseases in China that I need to worry about?
Sorry, very little medical drama in China. Some Volunteers find winter without central heating a challenge, while others wear the same thing inside that they wear outside and do just fine. Diarrhea and repiratory infections are the most common complaints and just require patience and over the counter medications.
What are the most common health problems reported to the PCMO?
The most common 10 problems are, in the following order: diarrhea, respiratory infections, stress, dental problems, fungal infections, allergic conditions, unintentional injuries (sprained ankles, basketball and running injuries, accidents), environmental health concerns, STIs, and alcohol problems