Colombia: "Las Margaritas" Health Centre assists newly arrived Venezuelans

Lara Palmisano

One of the most rewarding things about Marcela’s job is helping people. She administers the Health Centre “Las Margaritas”, located in Cúcuta, a town at the border where more than 1.1 million Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia. Her main function is to advocate for the well-being of patients arriving at the medical facility.

Since the Health Centre opened its doors in October 2018, thousands of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, as well as Colombians pertaining to the local community, have received medical assistance.

“People often arrive disorientated. Our job is to provide them with orientation and proper information. It is rewarding to have people coming to you and saying: ‘Look at me. Do you remember me? I’m better now. Thank you for your help”, says Marcela Rosas Torres. “For me, to be able to support people and know that beneficiaries are feeling satisfied with their treatment, is gratifying”, Marcela Rosas Torres says.

Credit: Olga Sarrado/UNHCR

With funding from CERF, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in coordination with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), helped to establish the Health Centre, which is now a four-story building for consultations, provision of basic medical equipment and sanitary facilities and child friendly space.    

The facility provides vaccination to an average of 30 to 40 people a day, and general medical check-ups from 55 to 70 people a day. When a case is identified as complex, it is referred to the Villa del Rosario Hospital, where there is specialized equipment.

The center also informs about sexual and reproductive rights and provide children with hygiene and school kits. Didactic workshops and educational talks for parents and children are organized, after which snacks consisting of oatmeal bread and fruits are distributed. The snacks, in addition to the monitoring and the nutritional supplements offered to children, take a step forward in the fight against malnutrition, which is one of the medical conditions most frequently assisted in “Las Margaritas”.

In 2018, CERF allocated $US 5.3 million to support joint efforts by IOM and UNHCR in six countries affected by the Venezuela situation: Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.