A Milestone in Healthcare Collaboration: San Juan de Dios Hospital Partners with Local NGOs in Colombia


A ten-month commitment to improve health outcomes for the indigenous communities and migrants living in Puerto Carreño, Vichada, Colombia was signed this week in a significant move that will enhance healthcare services in the municipality.  

The San Juan de Dios Departmental Hospital in Puerto Carreño, Vichada has entered into a cooperation agreement with Fundación Cadena Colombia and Fundación Roles de Colores to deliver strengthened healthcare services in Vichada. The project is aimed at the 49,000 migrants and indigenous people in the department who are not currently registered in the Colombian healthcare system.   

The collaboration was signed on 13 February at the Goethe Institute in Bogotá with distinguished guests – including Katrin Ramírez from the German Embassy in Bogotá – gathering to witness the signing of the agreement by Alvaro Alberto Cardoso Castro, the Director of the San Juan de Dios de Puerto Carreño Hospital, Sol Bentolila Cohen of Fundación Cadena Colombia, and Sandra Milena Zuñiga Monroy of Fundación Roles de Colores. 

We’re making this agreement for the people and it paves the way for the most vulnerable population of Puerto Carreño, including non-regular migrants, the indigenous population and older adults, to have access to the fundamental right to healthcare, overcoming the barriers to accessing a decent and efficient service. For this, there will be mobile, fixed and telemedicine healthcare to reach our communities.

Sandra Zuñiga, Director of the Roles de Colores Foundation.

A temporary hospital building in Vichada, Colombia

Working together, the organisations and the hospital will employ mobile healthcare brigades to deliver medical services to people living in informal settlements in and around the Puerto Carreno town centre, including in the township of Casuarito.  Medical brigades will also reach the Vichada municipality of Primavera.  As part of the collaboration, the San Juan de Dios hospital will install a satellite internet connection that will enable telemedicine services to be provided via an alliance with the Universidad Nacional de Colombia.    

This initiative is lead by HelpAge Germany, and implemented by HelpAge International and local partners as part of a project which addresses the protection, water, sanitation, food security, and healthcare needs of the most vulnerable people affected by migration on key migration routes and border crossings in Colombia and Venezuela. Funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, the project aims to strengthen healthcare services at the public hospital in Puerto Carreño through a comprehensive healthcare model which includes: 

  • Diagnosis and Mapping: Understanding the social, cultural, and public health landscapes, identifying barriers to healthcare access, and mapping key actors and resources. 
  • Capacity Building: Enhancing the capabilities of local health institutions, introducing eHealth and telemedicine solutions, and fostering public-private partnerships. 
  • Primary and Specialised Care: Establishing primary health care in urban and peri-urban areas, satellite health care units, and primary health brigades, along with specialised healthcare services through telemedicine and health brigades with specialists. 
  • Patient Support: Coordinating with public institutions for the regularisation of migrants and indigenous populations to facilitate access to the health system. 

The agreement underscores a collective effort to provide essential healthcare services, leveraging financial contributions from the participating foundations to ensure the well-being of the target population.  The value of this agreement is 570,336 Euros. 

This partnership aims to alleviate the operational and economic burdens on the Colombian health system, and to set a precedent for collaborative healthcare provision in the region, ensuring sustainable and accessible health services for all.