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Colombia/Venezuela Border Crisis

STATUS
Active Emergency
DATE
August 01, 2018 -Present
REGION
Colombia
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More than 4 million people have fled Venezuela since 2014 to escape extreme food and medicine shortages

Growing Health Crisis

Migration: More than 4 million people have fled Venezuela since 2014 to escape extreme food and medicine shortages, violence and political instability. More than half of the people fleeing have gone to Colombia, which has received more than 1.4 million people from Venezuela since 2014, according to the Colombian Government.

Health Care: Pharmacies and hospitals in Venezuela have severe shortages of medicine and supplies and inadequate staffing as medical professionals leave the country. Even in locations where medical services are available in Venezuela, falling wages and hyperinflation have put medical care out of reach for many families. The collapse of the health care system has exacerbated health conditions for the migrant population with many going months without care.

Response: Americares has set up clinics in towns near the border or where Venezuelans have settled to meet the primary health care needs of migrants who may arrive with dangerous health conditions such as high blood pressure that has gone untreated.

Colombia clinic

Health Care at the Border

Updated October 2019

Americares is currently operating four medical clinics in Colombia and is in the process of opening six more to provide essential primary care services and access to medicine for migrants fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. The clinics, located near the Venezuelan border and in areas where Venezuelans have settled, are established in coordination with the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection, and made possible with the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development and other donors. The clinics will provide primary care services at no cost for children and adults six days a week through August 2020. These facilities are helping to alleviate the strain the influx of Venezuelans has placed on the Colombian health system.

Nearly 45,000 people are crossing the border each day in search of health care, education and other essential services. Prenatal care is the main reason Venezuelans are seeking care at the Americares clinics in Colombia. Of the more than 115,000 patient consultations Americares has provided to date, about 20 percent are for prenatal care.

Consequences of Delayed Health Care

Many of the nearly 20 percent of clinic visits that involve pregnant women seeking pre-natal care are women with high-risk pregnancies. Some arrive with dangerously high blood pressure, putting them at risk for preeclampsia, that could have been prevented or diagnosed early and treated with primary care services.

Failure to identify and treat diseases early can lead to long periods of hospitalization and lengthen the recovery for patients. In the most extreme cases, lack of treatment can result in disability or death. In addition, prolonged health issues can prevent Venezuelans from working, increasing the financial burden on families already struggling due to the economic crisis.

“I will always be thankful to the people of Americares for saving my life. God bless you always for such beautiful work you do. And to the people who donate, I ask God to multiply them so that they continue to help people in need who so require it.”

Alcides, a clinic patient from Venezuela

A doctor attends a child at the external consultation headquarter. Americares responds to people’s needs by offering people basic medical aids in a recovered area of the old hospital of Maicao, La Guajira, Colombia, on July 5th, 2018. Children and pregnant mother receive the attention first. Since 2015 Venezuelans' mass migration to Colombia progressively increased. After crossing the border migrants start a long path, often by walk and lasting over three months, to Peru, Chile and Brazil in search of a new life and job opportunities, fleeing their country as President Nicolas Maduro consolidates autocratic power and food and medicine run out due to corruption. Americares is working on the health emergency response. Photographer: Nicolo Filippo Rosso/Americares

Our Work Around the World

Americares responds to an average of 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities. Our relief workers are among the first to respond to emergencies and stay as long as needed, helping to restore health services for survivors.