Venezuelan migrants will be provided with a regional vaccination card beginning in October, health officials from 10 countries agreed on Monday in an effort to ensure they receive needed vaccines and are not given double doses. More than 4 million Venezuelans have fled an economic and political crisis in their home country that has caused widespread shortages of food and medicine.
Health officials from the United States, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Canada, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Peru and Paraguay unanimously approved the measure in a meeting in the Colombian border city of Cucuta.
The vaccination card will accompany migrants from the middle of October and have the support of international agencies for its printing, distribution and training for its use, Colombian Health Minister Juan Pablo Uribe told journalists.
The unified card shows that our countries can work together, Uribe added.
The health officials, including US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, also agreed to prioritize efforts to reduce infection rates and treat malaria and HIV/AIDS, care for migrants with chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer, and help migrants in need of mental health care.
The officials visited a Cucuta hospital where more than 70% of births are to Venezuelan mothers, one of the bridges that marks the border between Colombia and Venezuela, and a migrant cafeteria run by the Catholic Church.
Addressing the humanitarian crisis caused by the failed Maduro regime is a top humanitarian priority for President Trump and his administration, Azar said, referring to embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Azar said the US government has given Latin American countries some US$256 million in humanitarian and development aid in response to the crisis.
All of these countries are working together with the Guaido government to prepare for the day when freedom comes to Venezuela, he added, referencing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized by more than 50 countries as his country's legitimate leader.