Colombia - Doctors of the World


Doctors of the World has been active in Colombia since 1987 working to provide healthcare to rural communities and those affected by conflict

7.7 million

people affected by violence in 2021

6.1 million

people in need of health care

4.8 million

people displaced as a result of the conflict in 2022

Colombia's civil war was formally ended on November 24th 2016

The conflict led to 220,000 fatalities, 40,000 disappearances, and an estimated 6 million people were displaced by fighting. After 52 years of conflict, there is still much to be done across the country to restore access to healthcare – especially in rural areas that were heavily affected by the conflict. 

Despite the peace treaty signed in 2016, the rights of civilian populations continue to be threatened or even violated by internal conflicts, particularly between armed groups and cartels. The Covid-19 epidemic and the migration of neighboring Venezuelan populations have only amplified these difficulties, particularly in remote geographical areas where humanitarian access still remains a challenge.

In Colombia’s rural regions the nearest health center is often hours away on foot or by boat. Access to the most basic health services becomes, under these conditions, extremely perilous. Armed violence and population movements make women and sexual minorities vulnerable. This absence of public health services leads to increases in the spread of disease and in the prevalence of malnutrition. 

Doctors of the World operates in the departments of Nariño, Meta, and Guaviare in order to provide rural communities with healthcare with a specific focus on sexual and reproductive health. Our humanitarian mission in Colombia is therefore based on several axes, from the defense of human rights to the establishment of a medical aid plan to compensate for the lack of care.

MIRE Humanitarian Consortium 


Since the peace agreements, Doctors of the World has reoriented its activities in rural areas in order to provide an emergency response in the event of a peak in violence, in particular during attacks by paramilitary groups, massive displacements and the confinement of populations. In partnership with two other international NGOs, we deploy a team of doctors, psychologists, social workers and specialists in nutrition, hygiene, sanitation and child protection.

Doctors of the World has formed the MIRE Humanitarian Consortium (Intersectoral Emergency Response Mechanism) for global and multisectoral care in health, emergency education, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), protection, shelter and food.

Our humanitarian action in Colombia has mainly focused on emergency primary health care, including general medicine, sexual and reproductive health and mental health, among the most affected populations and victims of the conflict. In this order, the humanitarian mission in Colombia, with the Consortium, prioritizes the most important emergencies. The idea is to coordinate with the local authorities, and to involve the existing institutions in order to generate processes for the sustainability of the action.

The MIRE Humanitarian Consortium attended to 73 humanitarian emergencies due to armed conflict, Covid-19 and disasters between March 2020 and March 2021.


Providing care to those in need

Colombia © Nadia Berg

Doctors of the World’s mobile clinics aim to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare services to Colombia’s remotest communities. Our teams distribute contraceptives, screen for sexually transmitted diseases, provide prenatal care to pregnant women, and screen mothers and children for malnutrition. If a woman wishes to have an abortion we provide her with advice and direct her to the relevant facilities. 

In addition to sexual and reproductive healthcare our teams focus on providing mental health support to our patients. 30% of the people we see are suffering from psychological issues such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Our teams also offer psychological support for victims of gender based violence (GBV) and sexual assault. 

“30% of the people we see are suffering from psychological issues such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, or have experienced sexual violence.”

Caring for Venezuelan Migrants

Doctors of the World supports many people at different points of the migration route throughout the country. Projects to care for the migrant population in 2021 were concentrated in Bogotá, Soacha, Cali and Ipiales, in Colombia’s border area with Ecuador.

The objective: to support the populations most at risk (minors, victims of sexual and professional exploitation, etc.), and to provide health and psychosocial care for migrants in transit. In 2021, 45% of primary health care was provided to migrants and more than 60% of sexual and reproductive health consultations benefited migrant women.

Ending Gender-Based Violence

Doctors of the World also emphasizes the protection of victims of sexual violence to form self-support groups, and to guarantee comprehensive and rights-respecting care in health establishments in Meta, Guaviare and Nariño, Cauca, Valle del Cauca and Chocó.

Projects include workshops for communities, health care institutions and community leaders on issues such as domestic violence, gender-based violence, sexual violence, and pathways to identification, accompaniment and reporting.

Coping with the COVID-19 Crisis

Doctors of the World has mobilized to respond to the Covid-19 epidemic, by integrating it into biosecurity protocols, and taking into account containment and prevention actions in its programs. A route has been developed for the referral of suspected cases to health centers. In all the projects, the teams carry out workshops with the population and community leaders on the prevention and identification of positive cases of Covid-19.

We also implemented two emergency medical aid projects in Colombia, in the Amazon region (departments of Amazonia, Guainía and Vichada) in order to strengthen medical services and contribute to the control of the disease. It should be noted that this region has been particularly affected by the disease, with a high number of cases and deaths.

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