(Portland, OR) October 28, 2021 – Medical Teams International is grateful to the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) for its award of $2 million USD to support the first year of a planned multi-year project to continue and expand life-saving medical care in Colombia, particularly for vulnerable Venezuelan migrants. The Medical Teams project, “Protection and Prevention Against COVID-19 for Vulnerable Venezuelan Migrants and Colombians,” will support COVID-19 prevention practices, improve access to essential medical care, and provide Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) services, as well as other preventative health treatments for women and children.

Medical Teams has worked in Colombia since 2019, focusing on reducing barriers to healthcare access for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, especially for pregnant women, women of reproductive age, and children under five. Medical Teams programs in Colombia aim to reduce morbidity, mortality, and malnutrition rates and increase access to primary healthcare services, sexual and reproductive health, and maternal, newborn, and child health. These essential services have become even more critical and limited as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PRM funding will add new cities to reach more people and ensure that access to COVID-19 prevention, testing, and treatment are available for all. The new, additional programming will strengthen communities through an expanded network of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs), growing from 57 to 100. Also, MHPSS, a new addition to Medical Teams’ services, will allow for subsidized referrals for mental health services.

“Whether it be about enhanced use of digital communication networks to learn about vaccine access, or about the distribution of critical hygiene products that reduce the spread of the virus, this new funding represents a significant investment in the health of Colombia, which is carrying an immense load by hosting almost two of the over five million Venezuelans who have fled their country in recent years,” said Steve Cooke, Medical Teams Country Director in Colombia. “We are thankful for this opportunity to expand the impact that Medical Teams can make in Colombia, especially as the pandemic continues to impact the health system that must work for all Venezuelans and Colombians combined.”

Despite its relatively small population, Colombia has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic – consistently being among the top 10 countries globally in terms of number of cases and deaths per 100,000 people. This, combined with the added pressure of the migrant crisis and the pressure it creates on the health systems around the country, is why the programs of Medical Teams International, supported by generous donors like the United States Government PRM, is so urgently required at this time.

About Medical Teams International

Founded in 1979, Medical Teams International provides life-saving medical care for people in crisis, such as survivors of natural disasters and refugees. We care for the whole person— physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Daring to love like Jesus, we serve all people—regardless of religion, nationality, sex or race. Learn more at medicalteams.org and on social media using @medicalteams.

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