Colombia: Migration and Health Program – COVID-19 preparedness and response activities, May 2020 – Colombia


As of May 1, 2020, the country’s epidemiological situation for COVID-19 showed 7,006 cases and 214 deaths in 26 departments, 5 districts and 222 communes. At the end of the month, there were 29,383 cases and 939 deaths, a significant increase and a geographical distribution that had extended to 31 departments, 5 districts and 399 municipalities.

The increase in cases may be linked to the country’s diagnostic response capacity, which has grown from processing 557 samples per day in March of this year to an average of 2,769 samples per day in April and 7,171 samples per day in may. Other aspects that may be relevant to the dynamics of transmission were the reactivation of various business sectors, disruption of law and order, protests and increased recruitment of children and youth by armed groups. The above has led the national and local authorities to decree an orange alert and curfews and to establish binational agreements with Brazil (supervision of informal procedures and exchange of information) and Peru (recording of the evolution of the COVID-19 and establishment of an action plan). On May 28, Decree 749 was issued, by which mandatory administrative segregation was extended until July 1, 2020.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has established the Global Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Preparedness and Response, aligned with the WHO Response Plan, to help Member States respond to this emergency. The Migration and Health (M&S) program has technically and operationally adapted the actions of four projects, making the lines of intervention more flexible depending on the extent and urgency of the needs arising from the COVID-19 emergency. It is an exercise in innovation in the approach to access to health in the context of human mobility and peacebuilding:

  1. Institutional and community strengthening to support the health response plan for the Venezuelan migrant population and host communities, funded by the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) in 13 departments and 24 municipalities.
  2. Community stabilization and health care program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 13 departments and 24 municipalities.
  3. Strengthening community health surveillance and epidemic disease assessment, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Soacha, Cundinamarca.
  4. Health for Peace – Powering Communities, funded by the United Nations Multi-Donor Fund (MPTF) in 26 municipalities where the Territorial Training and Reintegration Areas (ETCR) are located.

IOM, through its Migration and Health (M&S) program, has activated a national crisis management team, led by COVID-19 and 13 interdisciplinary territorial teams, comprising 52 professionals with expertise in public health, epidemiology, care nurses, psychology, social work, and information systems, as well as 58 community health workers who provide support to territorial health authorities and local hospitals for the care of the migrant population and host communities. Additionally, the program activated a team of 26 nursing professionals who are supporting the response in the country’s dispersed rural communities, including ETCRs.

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