Interventions on COVID-19 Vaccination and other infectious Diseases in the Migrant Population at the Colombian-Venezuelan Border

  • Among Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, highly treatable diseases such as syphilis have become a major health concern, with particularly serious risks for pregnant women and infants. Medical treatment faces the challenges of how to reach out to the migrants in often precarious legal and material situations. The project will explore effective ways to provide adequate prevention and health care measures for the at-risk population in the context of these obstacles.
    GIZ, 2022-2023


    Research Questions

    How can effective prevention and health care measures be provided to migrants in precarious legal and material situations?

    Research Design and Methods

    On the basis of an integral health services project, which was carried out by CARE Colombia as sub-contractors of the project, a research project on the social determinants of syphilis was designed and conducted. These studies included 30 interviews with at-risk youth (11 males and 19 females) and 20 mothers with newborns with congenital syphilis, all with informed consent. In addition, a quasi-experimental study was conducted to determine whether monetary transfers could help with adherence to syphilis treatment.

    Preliminary Findings

    The results of the studies point to a high lack of knowledge about syphilis (97% among young people and 75% among mothers), gender relations marked by male behavior that increases the risk of infection (more sexual partners, greater rejection of condom use) and lack of access to the public health system.
    The critical presence of unsatisfied basic needs represented an additional concrete obstacle to access treatment; the interviews revealed the low income levels and the regularity of hunger in this population. Finally, within the group of individuals diagnosed with syphilis who received conditional cash transfers, adherence to treatment reached 80%, while for the group without the monetary transfers, adherence reached 45%. In effect, the transfers almost doubled adherence, showing that they are an effective and low-cost strategy when compared to the costs of perinatal morbidity and mortality secondary to gestational syphilis.


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