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Americares Expands Health Clinics for Venezuelans in Colombia

  • Civil Conflict, Clinical Services, Emergency Response
October 29, 2019
A patient receives treatment at an Americares emergency medical clinic in La Guajira, Colombia. Photo by Pedro Samper/Americares.
A patient receives treatment at an Americares emergency medical clinic in La Guajira, Colombia. Photo by Pedro Samper/Americares.

Stamford, Conn. — Oct. 29, 2019 — Americares is opening six more health clinics in Colombia to meet the increasing demand for primary care services and access to medicines for families fleeing the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. The new clinics bring Americares total number of primary care sites in Colombia to 10 in an effort to alleviate the strain on the Colombian health system. Clinicians are expected to provide more than 200,000 consultations over the next year.

Operated in coordination with the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection and with the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development and other donors, the Americares clinics will provide comprehensive primary care for Venezuelan children and adults six days a week through August 2020. Patients receive medical exams, mental health services and medication at no cost.

Americares opened its first emergency clinic in La Guajira in July 2018 at the request of the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection to provide critical medical care to the thousands of Venezuelans entering Colombia daily. Clinics in Arauca, Atlántico and Norte de Santander quickly followed.

Last month, Americares began operating mobile clinics in Atlántico, Bolívar, Cesar and Magdalena with plans to open stationary clinics in all of the locations within weeks. Stationary clinics in Bolívar and Cesar will begin operating over the next week. Four more clinics are expected to open by the end of November.

“Americares is expanding its presence in Colombia to provide quality health services to more families in need,” said Americares Colombia Country Director Walter James. “We are committed to providing essential health services for the most vulnerable, including children and expectant mothers.”

More than 4 million people have fled Venezuela over the past five years, with Colombia hosting nearly 1.4 million displaced Venezuelans—the most in the region. With Venezuela’s economic crisis and severe shortages of medical professionals, medicine and supplies, medical care is increasingly difficult to access. Even in locations where medical services are available in Venezuela, falling wages and hyperinflation have put medical care out of reach for many families.

Venezuelans in Colombia are entitled to receive emergency health care services from the Colombian public health care system; public or private non-emergency health services are available but unaffordable and unattainable for most.

To date, Americares has provided more than 100,000 patient consultations in Colombia. Nearly 20 percent of visits to the Americares clinics are expectant mothers seeking prenatal care. By the time patients arrive, they have often gone without care for months. Some arrive with dangerously high blood pressure, including pregnant women at risk for preeclampsia, that could have been prevented or diagnosed early and treated with primary care services.

“Our clinicians see an extraordinary number of high-risk pregnancies,” James said. “We are providing prenatal care to give both mother and baby a chance for a healthier future.”

Americares Emergency Response Program responds to approximately 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide every year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities. Since its founding 40 years ago, Americares has provided more than $17 billion in aid to 164 countries, including the United States.

To make a donation to Americares Venezuela Regional Crisis Fund go to: americares.org/donatevenezuela