Americares Colombia Clinic Supports Venezuelans Like Maria

Providing Safe Access to Health Services in Colombia

Maria and her family had camped for months at a construction site after fleeing Venezuela with nothing. That’s when her baby became ill. Little Dominic had diarrhea, which can be life threatening in a child if left untreated. Without money or citizenship in Colombia, Maria had no options.

Then, another Venezuelan refugee told Maria about an Americares free clinic nearby. She and her husband rushed Dominic to the clinic, where Americares doctors treated the little boy. Within weeks, he was fully recovered.

Over the past five years, 4.8 million people have fled Venezuela, with Colombia hosting nearly 1.6 million displaced Venezuelans—the most in the region. Like many, Maria and her husband, Carlos, had a good life in Venezuela; they were both working while studying for college degrees. But the political crisis made currency worthless, and what had bought groceries for a month was gone in a day. Carlos left first and found a construction job in Colombia; Maria and Dominic followed.

“Thank you, Americares,” says Maria. “I’m very grateful. Not just for me, but for everyone who is coming. Many people arrive sick, because in Venezuela you can’t get medicine.” Americares opened its first clinic in July 2018 and now operates 10 health clinics in Colombia for families like Maria’s.

Americares clinics provide comprehensive primary care, including medical exams, mental health services and medication, at no cost for Venezuelan children and adults. Clinical staff also provide mobile outreach services in neighboring communities. Americares has provided nearly 177,000 patient consultations—close to 20 percent of clinic visits are pregnant women seeking pre-natal care, including many women with high-risk pregnancies. The clinic that restored Dominic’s health is now the family’s primary health center— Americares staff even provided the paperwork Dominic needed to enroll in school in Colombia. Now, Maria sees a healthy future for her little boy, and that, at least, gives her hope.

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Photo Caption
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Colombia, Americares clinics quickly pivoted from in-person appointments to care by telephone. When rules allowed, the clinics resumed in-person care—ensuring patients had safe access to health services.
Photo Credit
Ana Maria Ariza / Americares