Colombia is a large country and vast parts of its territory are covered by thick jungle that makes travel extremely difficult. Most health professionals are based in the large cities. Beyond the shortages of human and financial resources common to many of the countries in the region, the conflict in Colombia plays a major role in preventing government medical staff from reaching remote areas.
Despite these constraints, there are many rural medical staff that assume exceptional levels of personal risk to provide medical attention. They frequently recount stories of armed groups exerting pressure and control over their movements or work. One doctor described a one-month term of practice in a heavily controlled village:
The man was found wandering around town. He said he was feeling bad, but he could not explain what was wrong. He kept talking and crying... tears went down his cheeks and when we asked him why he was crying, he said, "Am I crying?" and he cleaned his face, started crying again, and kept repeating he did not feel well.
He was disoriented, confused, with mental blackouts, he could not remember what had happened. In this war you get to see beyond the dead, there is another face to violence. — Community leader, rural area