FIGO Statement on health of refugees and migrants in Colombia
FIGO advocates on a global stage for increased focus on the health and wellbeing of refugee and migrant women and girls, recognising that their specific health needs do not change when they are displaced.
Colombia has received approximately 1.2 million refugees since 2017, driven by the political and economic crisis in Venezuela. The healthcare needs of women in refugee and migrant populations are huge, and since March 2017, approximately 60,000 pregnant women from Venezuela have given birth in Colombia. There is an increase in cases of extreme maternal morbidity (four-fold), increase in cases of low birth weight infants and perinatal deaths (two-fold) and an increase in cases of gestational syphilis (almost five-fold comparing January 2018 and January 2019).
Women from Venezuela living in Colombia require: access to sexual and reproductive health care services to close the unmet need for modern contraceptive methods and limit unwanted or adolescent pregnancy; safe abortion and post-abortion services; protection from sexual exploitation and integrated care for sexual and gender-based violence; maternal health, antenatal care and hospital-based deliveries overseen by skilled health personnel; neonatal health care; reproductive morbidity and cancer screening, as well as midlife needs. These must be provided at primary health care level for refugees at a wider scale.
FIGO welcomes the Constitutional Court of Colombia’s ruling that the healthcare system continue to provide care for Venezuelan citizens no matter their immigration status, and commends the healthcare community, which has provided more than 2 million individual services to Venezuelan citizens.
With 132 National Member Societies, FIGO is in a unique position to collaborate with partners, promote continuity and quality of care, develop and implement occupational health and safety measures, and to advocate mainstreaming refugee and migrant health in global, regional and country agendas.
FIGO applauds the Colombian Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FECOLSOG)’s commitment to women’s health. Through alliances with international agencies (PAHO/WHO, UNHRC, IOM) and provision of continued education to obstetricians, gynaecologists, general practitioners and nurses, FECOLSOG is working to fulfil the needs of women and their families in this humanitarian crisis.
Health is a human right, and all women deserve the highest possible standards of physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health. This must hold true wherever women live - and in a world of increasing migration, wherever they are forced to go.
Dr Armando Solano, FECOLSOG President
Dr Kristina Gemzell-Daniellson Chair, FIGO Committee on Human Rights, Refugees and Violence Against Women
Dr Jorge Rubio, Associate Editor, Colombian Journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology