Skip to main content
COVID-19 impacted the mental health of refugees and migrants

COVID-19 impacted the mental health of refugees and migrants

Peru presented its government's response fronts, and together with 0PS/WHO, reiterated how regional vaccination goals were achieved beyond immigration status. 

By Isadora Zoni 

Brasilia, May 3, 2022 — The importance of an articulated and multidisciplinary response of governments to COVID-19 was one of the central themes of the Thematic Workshop led by Peru, which presented, as the leading country on the subject, the main strategies of the Peruvian government for vaccination and mental health of the Venezuelan migrant and refugee population. 

For its part, Global Affairs Canada, representing the Group of Friends, presented the partnerships it has made with WHO in the region and its investment in health projects. 

In the case of Peru, it became clear that the Venezuelan diaspora turned the country that typically sent migrants into a receiving and destination.

According to Daniel Loarte, representative of Peru, the country is the second greatest host of Venezuelans in the region, and the one that receives the largest number of asylum applications. In fact, today Lima is the city with the largest number of Venezuelans outside of Venezuela. 

The growing flow has put pressure on all national health systems, especially aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation was no different in Peru. To address the situation, the country pledged to promote respect and rights regardless of immigration status. 

Right to health, regardless of immigration status

Peruvian officials expressed the importance of facing the migration and health crisis with a welcoming spirit and humanitarian approach, providing efficient, effective, decentralized, transversal and regional responses, sharing what they have, even in situations of scarcity of resources, through measures such as attention to migrants, vaccination and mental health care. 

Dr. David Huamaní, from the Ministry of Health of Peru, presented the Peruvian policy on the integration of migrants into the health and care system in times of COVID-19 and recalled that Peru assumed the Pro Tempore Presidency of the Quito Process in 2020, in which it was agreed to include the national and migrant population in the national vaccination plans. To this was added the exchange of information for the socialization of good practices, the generation of a model of mental health care and psychosocial care (SMAPS), the promotion of care for people with mental health problems, and the care of people cured of COVID-19 living with mental health challenges,  frontline workers and people who have lost family members.

Multi-level response 

At the national level, immediate response activities are being carried out today to the challenges of providing health services to the migrant population, in coordination with the members of the mental health and vaccines groups of the Intersectoral Group on Migration Management, chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The actions are divided into two working groups:

  1. Vaccines: Coordinates actions to facilitate access to vaccination and health care, composed of various government entities, UN agencies and civil society.
  2. Mental health: mitigation of mental health consequences caused by Covid-19 and access to mental health care, made up of various government entities, UN agencies and civil society.

In addition, various government and civil society actors join forces for a more comprehensive response that guarantees broad access for Venezuelan migrants and refugees to health services in the face of COVID-19. As an example, the Ministry of Health monitors children who have lost their parents to COVID-19 through psychosocial support centers. 


Tools and resources:

+ Modelo de presentación CDAE-v2.
+ Salud PdQ 2022.
+ Taller COVID 19 - Colombia.