Colombia mission establishes three permanent clinics

MSF has established three permanent clinics in Colombia in the last month - considered a strong development for the organisation's activitites in the country. For a long time MSF only had mobile clinics to access people caught in local conflict so a permanent location for clinics will bring more consistent and improved health care to the surrounding population.

MSF has opened a fixed clinic in Saiza, a small village in the Costa Atlantica region, in the far south, which is the focus for a scattered rural population of 10,000 people.

In the first few weeks MSF received around 60 patients on daily basis - higher than expected. This area is a crossing point for conflicting armed groups and families have only just returned after years of displacement brought on by 1999 massacre in Saiza village when a medical team from MSF was also present.

The team was forced to take refuge by fleeing into surrounding bush after armed men entered the town and selected villagers for public execution.

Despite the return of many families today, there is no sign of state health services returning. The majority of illnesses are related to reproductive care, pneumonia in children, diarrhoea, malaria and lots of snakebites. The patients are in particular very happy with the dentist. However, over the period of our presence, the need for psychosocial care in the rural areas emerged stronger than ever.

A second clinic has opened in the town of Sincelejo - MSF's first urban clinic in Colombia and is in the northwest. In a highly complex urban setting, MSF will provide basic health care services and psychosocial assistance to displaced people.

In Norte de Santander, northeast Colombia, MSF started providing complementary health services to the population of the isolated rural municipality of La Gabarra.

The permanent clinics enable MSF to provide more consistent care to vulnerable populations and give the teams a better opportunity to be present during medical emergencies.