Health Care for Venezuelan Refugees in Manaus City

Author: Juliana Vieira Saraiva

IFMSA Brazil

Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM)

Health Care for Venezuelan Refugees in Manaus City

Key words: non-discriminatory access to health, human rights, international immigration.

Following the worsening economic and social crisis in Venezuela, the flow of Venezuelan citizens to Brazil has grown massively in recent years. Between 2015 and May 2019, Brazil registered more than 178,000 applications for refuge and temporary residence. Manaus is one of the Brazilian cities that has received the most people, making actions to help refugees extremely important, as it is known that they are not being properly supported regarding their most basic needs. Thus, the IFMSA Brazil-UFAM Local Committee, after discussions in the first half of 2019, carried out the Esperanza Project: Refugee Health Care on November 23, 2019 and December 1, 2019 at Manaus Bus Terminal, from 1: 00 PM to 6:00 PM. The first day was attended only by university students and worked on topics such as male and female personal hygiene, healthy eating, parasites and awareness of human trafficking. Screening was also carried out and this was the most sought-after activity of the day, thus exemplifying the refugees’ need for health assistance. On the second day, there was medical, dental, legal and psychological care. The first was carried out by undergraduates of the UFAM (Federal University of Amazonas) Medical School who already had the discipline of medical propaedeutics, as well as some recruited professionals. It occurred in a warehouse provided by the bus station and refugees were provided care as much as possible, prescription drugs (preferably those offered by the SUS [Unified Health System] given the economic vulnerability of patients), and referrals if there was a need to perform additional tests or outpatient procedures. The dental care had a professional from the area and some university students who had knowledge of basic surgical procedures. The psychological care was performed with the help of two professionals and students of the psychology and medicine courses. It contemplated group dynamics that revolved around the most different age groups, presenting themes related to the sedimentation of hope and resilience in the face of adversity, as well as the resignification of a future perspective through playful approaches in conversation circles, such as “Tree of Dreams” and the“ Suitcase of Feelings ”. Finally, the legal assistance comprised the joint work of a professional from the International Law field with her students from the Human Rights Clinic in order to provide information related to labor law, judicial guarantees, immigration regularization, trafficking in persons and their individual rights as a whole. It was also possible to involve a large number of volunteers from various fields of knowledge who joined forces and resources to act humanely and responsibly to a growing population in our city. The mobilization promoted by the volunteers was admirable and deserves a highlight, as there were more than 80 volunteers raising donations, promoting the project on social networks, organizing the training, the place of action and interacting with the refugees.


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