Venezuelans pour into Colombia, desperate for medical care they
can’t find at home
Desperate for medical attention, Venezuelans flood into Colombia | Miami Herald
Valeria Sophia Gómez (left) and Maijer Josue, twins, were born in Cúcuta,
Colombia, after their Venezuelan mother was told she needed to cross the border if
the babies were to live. Venezuela’s health crisis has sent thousands across the
border to seek care. Jim Wyss Miami Herald
By Jim Wyss
December 23, 2016
Marili Gómez was eight months pregnant with twins in her hometown of Valencia,
Venezuela, when her doctor gave her stark advice: She could either take an 18-hour
bus ride and seek care in neighboring Colombia or lose the babies.
As she sat in a bare, second-story walk-up in this Colombian border town feeding
the newborns, Gómez said she didn’t have to think about the decision very long.
Just weeks before that doctor’s visit, she’d lost her 16-year-old son to Venezuela’s
violence — he was stabbed more than a dozen times in what police believe was a
“I had no choice,” she said of the dangerous journey. “I wanted my babies to live.”
Venezuela’s stunning economic collapse — going from one of the hemisphere’s
most prosperous countries to the region’s basket case — is starting to have ripple
effects in neighboring nations.
In particular, its crumbling healthcare system is generating waves of medical
refugees. And while Colombia doesn’t keep track of national figures, hospitals
along the border say they’ve been swamped with cases.
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