As of March 2020, roughly 1.8 million Venezuelan migrants were living in Colombia. An additional 5 million – known as “pendular migrants” -- were crossing the border for short periods to obtain medical care, food, informal work, or to visit family before the borders were closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020. The Colombian government has committed to integrating Venezuelan migrants into the health system, in keeping with the country’s constitution, which grants everyone the right to health care. This commitment was reiterated in February 2021 with the Colombian president’s historic announcement that Venezuelan migrants would soon be granted temporary legal status in Colombia.
The country faces two tremendous challenges that strain the health system: adequately financing and providing accessible health care to the large migrant population while ensuring that current residents continue to benefit from social and economic development; and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What We’re Doing
LHSS supports the Colombian government’s efforts to integrate Venezuelan migrants into the health system and respond to health emergencies. Our work supports the immediate COVID-19 response while laying the groundwork for broader interventions in priority regions.
Over the life of the activity, we will work with the Colombian government to achieve four main objectives:
- Strengthen governance and management at the national and regional levels to respond to the health needs of migrants and the communities where they settle;
- Promote sustainable financing of health services for migrants and receptor communities;
- Strengthen mechanisms to increase access to high-quality, appropriate care for migrants and receptor communities; and
- Strengthen the resiliency of the Colombian health system to respond to COVID-19 and future shocks.
Specific interventions related to COVID-19 and long-term resiliency include deploying rapid response teams in prioritized areas; fostering the development and dissemination of innovations for the COVID-19 response; supporting implementation of the Colombian government’s testing, tracking, and isolation program; working with the government to establish a national health observatory; strengthening capacity to offer COVID-19 related mental health support; and providing guidance on health systems strengthening to help the country respond effectively to future health emergencies.
Who This Helps
Our work will benefit all migrants and the communities receiving them. We will be deliberately mindful of certain groups that have urgent health needs or that face extreme barriers to health care access, including women and girls, unaccompanied minors, and those living with disabilities or other potentially stigmatizing conditions. Altogether, LHSS efforts implemented in partnership with the government and other key stakeholders will benefit the entire country in both the short and long term.
Rapid response teams are fanning out across Colombia, supporting the government’s health secretariats with COVID-19 surveillance, contact tracing, communication, and more.