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Colombia

70 years

of conflict

2,093

medical consultations provided in 23 mobile health service centres

20 years

before the possibility of improving living conditions for families living in conflict areas

The situation

Access to health care: an essential part of strengthening peace

 

Seven decades of conflict have left populations in rural areas of Colombia in a state of poverty and exclusion: areas of Colombia in a state of poverty and exclusion: access to health care is one of the rights threatened by the long-term absence of any state presence in the communities most affected by the conflict.

 

In the isolated rural areas of the department of Meta, where the nearest health care centre is sometimes several hours away by foot or canoe, access to health care services is extremely difficult. The isolation experienced by the inhabitants of this region also contributes to malnutrition and diseases relating to the poor quality of the water. The armed conflict has also helped to maintain a climate of fear and mistrust. The situation is made even worse by the rape and other violence to which women are subjected by armed groups. The psychological impact of this conflict on local populations is a particularly strong one.

 

Communities continue to demand that their members be protected from the threats posed by the various armed groups and by ordinary crime, while also demanding the basic services to which they are entitled, including health care services. Despite the signature of a peace agreement in November 2016, the situation is still unstable, and observers estimate that it will take at least 20 years until people’s rights are truly respected and living conditions improve for families living in areas of armed conflict.

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Our action

Doctors of the World provides mobile health services in some of the remote rural areas most affected by the conflict, with medical equipment and medicines needed for basic care. Emphasis is placed on sexual and reproductive health: distribution of contraceptive products, screening for STDs, cervical and breast cancers, pregnancy monitoring or monitoring of malnutrition in pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as in young children. Women wishing to abort are advised and directed, according to the Colombian legal framework.

In order to help those threatened with or victims of violence, particularly women, and the association’s teams offer medical services and psychological support. If necessary, victims are referred to facilities that can follow their progress in the long term, particularly from a legal perspective.

Following the signing of the peace agreements at the end of 2016, Doctors of the World is strengthening its collaboration with public health services so that access to care for the population is guaranteed.

Moreover, in order to ensure that as many people as possible have access to drinking water, Doctors of the World distributes filters and offers awareness-raising workshops for schoolchildren and families. The same type of action is carried out with regards to waste management, to give everyone access to the healthiest possible living environment and thus limit the development of diseases.

 

In order to take action in the field, Doctors of the World Canada proposes:

• An organization of mobile primary health care services with state services

• A provision of psychological and psychosocial care to victims of violence

• A provision of services to assist and refer victims of vio- lence with medical, legal and state assistance mechan- isms

• A training for groups of community leaders, including women and youth, on medical and legal mechanisms for helping victims of violence

• A nutritional screening and monitoring for children under 10 years of age and for pregnant and breastfeeding women

Our Impact

Between 2017 and 2018 :

 

  • 8
    workshops on the importance of a clean and hygienic environment and on ways to prevent waterborne illnesses, presented by female community leaders
  • 2 093
    medical consultations provided by 23 mobile health service centers
  • 6 177
    consultations provided on general medical issues and on matters of psychological and sexual and reproductive health (46.7% to men, 53.2% to women)
  • 868
    nutritional evaluations provided for children under 10 years of age, and pregnant or breastfeeding women

 

Our partners

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History

1987

Doctors of the World begins to work with the Apaporis Indians.

1994

Start of a program for children living on the streets. Closed in 2000.

1997

Intervention in the Chocó department affected by the armed conflict. Closed in 2011.

2003

End of the program with the Indians, intervention in the Meta department affected by the armed conflict.

2010

Start of an intervention in Nariño.

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