Venezuelans in Colombia Struggle to Get Medical Care

An estimated 4 million Venezuelans have left their country since the collapse of its political and economic systems, and at least 1.4 million have come to neighboring Colombia. They are coming from a country where, over the last few years, most people had no access to medicines and essential health services were entirely out of reach. Now in Colombia, they often face the same problem. Legally entitled to receive emergency medical care from the Colombian health system, those services are limited to vaccinations, immediate lifesaving treatment, and deliveries—and many migrants report being turned away from receiving these. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working to help cover the huge gaps in health services for Venezuelan migrants. "Because of their living conditions (migrants) suffer pathologies like diarrhea, skin diseases, respiratory infections and have no access to a doctor," said MSF project coordinator Elsa Soto. "So, providing them with access to basic health care is a first step to prevent them from getting worse and ending up in emergency rooms." Soto's teams work in La Guajira department, in Colombia's northernmost tip, and are focussed on primary health and mental health care, as well as sexual and reproductive health care, trying to prevent maternal death and suffering.