Hundreds of heavily pregnant Venezuelan women seek treatment at Save the Children Colombian border clinic

This content was originally published on Save the Children’s website here.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA – hundreds of at-risk heavily pregnant Venezuelan women have sought treatment at Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit clinic on the Colombia border.

Since opening at the start of April, 792 Venezuelan women have travelled to the clinic to receive pre and post-natal treatment. Due to the near-collapse of the healthcare system within Venezuela, many have waited until their second or third trimester to make the hazardous journey into Colombia specifically to seek healthcare, often leaving behind their families and having no place to stay when they arrive.

A staggering 61 percent of the pregnant women seen have high-risk pregnancies, with more than half suffering from anaemia due to the unavailability of affordable, nutritious food in Venezuela.

Other girls and women have high-risk pregnancies due to sexually-transmitted diseases such as syphilis and HPV. Inflation has soared by more than 1 million per cent in Venezuela and has meant that most contraceptives have become completely unaffordable for the vast majority of people over the last five years.

Twenty-six-year-old Ana moved to Colombia when she was seven months pregnant. She couldn’t afford to bring her two eldest daughters with her. Ana said:

The situation in Venezuela has hit us all really hard. We’ve all cried. Leaving your family is not easy. 

“I migrated during my pregnancy because I didn’t have the resources nor the care as a result of the problems in Venezuela. I don’t feel good because I can’t provide for [my children] because of the situation in Venezuela.

“At the time when I came here, I had an at-risk pregnancy and was hospitalised as a result. I had kidney stones…and I had very low haemoglobin levels. But thank God I went to a doctor and I received excellent care and a (blood) transfusion.”

In response to the urgent and escalating needs, Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit opened a sexual health and reproductive clinic in Maicao, Colombia (close to the Venezuelan border) on 3 April 2019. The clinic provides prenatal and postnatal healthcare, family planning, mental health services, care for survivors of gender-based violence and diagnosis and treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases.

Save the Children’s Colombia Country Director Maria Paula Martinez, said the number of pregnant teenage girls needing treating at the clinic was particularly concerning.

“Around a fifth of all the pregnant women we see are girls under the age of 18 – who as migrants have often had to leave almost everything they have behind, including their documentation. This means their access to healthcare and education is extremely limited, further compounding the risks to themselves and their unborn babies.

These women and their babies are among the most vulnerable. As well as often receiving absolutely no healthcare, in many cases they have been completely lacking nutritious food or a stable, safe place to live.

We ask the Colombian Government to allocate more resources for migrant children from Venezuela, ensure the access to quality health services and ensure the fulfilment of the Venezuelan migrants rights, with a special focus on their sexual and reproductive health rights.”

Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit is also setting up a mobile sexual reproductive health unit, which will provide services in La Guajira, close to Maicao and the areas bordering Venezuela.

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