Colombia is the most popular destination country for Venezuelan migrants, hosting roughly 2.5 million Venezuelan migrants as of February 2022. The Colombian government has committed to integrating Venezuelan migrants into the health system, 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 approval of the Temporary Protection Statute for Venezuelan Migrants. To date, this statute has granted temporary legal status to over 1,600,000 Venezuelan migrants in Colombia. In the wake of this mass migration, 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; responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
LHSS supports the Colombian government’s efforts to integrate Venezuelan migrants into the health system and respond to health emergencies. 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.
- LHSS has facilitated the inclusion of the Venezuelan migrant population into the General Social Health Insurance System at the policy level through a variety of measures, including supporting the development of a roadmap for the inclusion of the Venezuelan migrant population into the health system, the integration of the Venezuelan migrant population in Colombia’s Ten-Year Public Health Plan 2022-2031, and the provision of toolboxes with relevant information on health insurance enrollment, how to access health services and health-related rights.
- In 2023, LHSS supported the launch of integrated migrant service centers, or Intégrate Centers, in Cali, Cartagena, Riohacha, and Santa Marta, which are expected to guide more than 285,000 migrants, returnees, and host community members through the health insurance enrollment process and help them access health services. In January and February 2023, LHSS supported 11 integrated migrant service centers to assist more than 4,400 Venezuelan migrants (64 percent women) with information on accessing the Colombian health system.
- LHSS organized 300 enrollment events where around 106,000 migrants enrolled in Colombia’s General Social Health Insurance System in 12 territorial entities, which accounts for 11 percent of all migrants enrolled in the system over the life of the project.
- An LHSS co-led maternal health quality improvement collaborative institutionalized the use of evidence-based care and updated protocols in 17 health facilities. This effort contributed to decreasing extreme maternal morbidity rates in a participating hospital in Barranquilla from 229.03 to 89.78 per 1000 live births between October 2022 and August 2023.
- LHSS aided territorial entities in adopting the 2023 National Guidelines on Public Health Surveillance and provided training to over 2,700 health care personnel in rapid diagnosis and emergency response. These efforts will bolster the resilience of the health system to address both current and future health crises.
- LHSS grantee Simón Bolívar University published the book, Experiences of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Colombia 2020-2022, which was a result of an LHSS-led research initiative focused on assessing how Colombian regions responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.