Stamford, Conn. – Nov. 21, 2023 – Americares, the health-focused relief and development organization, today announced that it was awarded $5 million by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to continue to meet the health needs of the thousands of Venezuelans and other migrants entering Colombia daily in search of a better life. This new funding will allow Americares to continue to operate health centers and mobile clinics in 10 cities throughout Colombia, alleviating the strain on the local health system.
Americares, in coordination with the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection, will continue to provide free primary care, including medical exams, mental health services and medication, in Arauca, Cali, Cúcuta, Ipiales, Maicao, Medellín, Puerto Carreño, Santa Marta, Soacha and Soledad for families fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, migrants arriving from other countries and host communities through September 2024. Americares health services are especially vital for the migrants passing through Colombia known as “caminantes” or “walkers,” who make the treacherous journey on foot.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than seven million people have fled the humanitarian emergency in Venezuela, with Colombia hosting an estimated 2.9 million displaced Venezuelans—the most in the region. The Colombian health system has expanded services to migrants in recent years, however the volume and complexity of cases is straining the capacity of health facilities.
“Our clinics are a lifeline for Venezuelan families, migrants arriving from other countries and host communities across Colombia,” said Americares Colombia Country Director Diana Gutiérrez de Piñeres Botero. “The U.S. government’s continued support means more migrant families will have access to humanitarian assistance in the form of health services while working towards integration into the existing health system. At the same time, this funding underscores the impact we can make together, and we are committed to making a lasting difference in the lives of those we serve.”
With Venezuela’s economic crisis and severe shortages of medical professionals, medicine and supplies, medical care has become 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. In Colombia, Venezuelans are entitled to receive emergency health care services from the Colombian public health care system, however, public or private non-emergency health services are often unaffordable and unattainable for most.
Americares opened its first health clinic in La Guajira in July 2018, in coordination with national and regional public health authorities, and with funds from the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, to provide free primary care services for families fleeing the unprecedented humanitarian emergency in Venezuela. To date, Americares has provided more than 1 million patient consultations in Colombia for Venezuelan migrants, Colombian returnees and host communities.
Americares responds to more than 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings preparedness programs to communities vulnerable to disasters. Since it was founded more than 40 years ago, Americares has provided $22 billion in aid to 164 countries, including the United States.
This communication was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.
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