Guidance

Colombia: migrant health guide

Advice and guidance on the health needs of migrant patients from Colombia for healthcare practitioners.

Main messages

If the patient is new to the UK:

  • explain to them how the NHS works
  • discuss how this compares to the healthcare system they’ve been used to

Ensure that all patients are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule.

Consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly among those who have recently arrived. Colombia has an intermediate prevalence.

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

There is a high risk of malaria in in some areas of Colombia.

There is a risk of typhoid infection in Colombia.

Be alert for possible cases of Chagas disease, and refer as appropriate, because there is a risk of chronic Chagas disease in migrants from Colombia.

Infectious diseases

Immunisation

Ensure that all patients, especially children, are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule. See Immunisation collection with complete schedules.

Tuberculosis

There is a low incidence of TB in Colombia (<40 cases/100,000), so:

  • routine screening for TB is not required
  • consider testing in patients (including children) who show signs and symptoms
  • be aware that TB is a notifiable disease

Sexually transmitted infections and HIV

Take a sexual history, and:

  • screen for STIs and HIV according to risk as specified in the UK national standards and guidelines
  • test all sexually active patients under the age of 25 for chlamydia

Colombia has a low rate of HIV (≤1%), so:

  • offer and recommend an HIV test if the patient:
    • falls into a high risk group
    • is newly registering in a high prevalence area
  • be advised that national guidelines do not recommend routine consideration of HIV testing of infants and children who have recently arrived in the UK

Hepatitis B

Colombia has an intermediate prevalence of hepatitis B, so:

  • consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly those who have recently arrived
  • offer screening for hepatitis B to all pregnant women during each pregnancy
  • immunise appropriately babies born to mothers who are hepatitis B positive, and follow-up accordingly
  • be aware that the UK has a selective immunisation programme for hepatitis B

Hepatitis C

Colombia has a higher prevalence of hepatitis C than the UK, so consider screening for hepatitis C if other risk factors apply.

Travel plans and advice

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see [National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC)]https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/53/colombia), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

Malaria

There is a high risk of malaria in Colombia, due to P. falciparum and P. vivax., so:

Typhoid

There is a risk of typhoid infection in Colombia, so:

  • ensure that travellers to Colombia are offered typhoid immunisation and advice on prevention of enteric fever
  • remember enteric fever in the differential diagnosis of illness in patients with a recent history of travel to-or-from Colombia

Helminths

There is a risk of helminth infections in Columbia, including:

  • soil transmitted helminthiasis

Chagas

There is a risk of chronic Chagas disease in migrants from Colombia, so:

  • be alert for possible cases
  • refer as appropriate

Women’s health

Reproductive health indicators

Reproductive health indicator UK Colombia
Number of children per woman¹ 2 2
Use of contraception² 82% 72.8%

¹lifetime average; ²by woman of reproductive age or partner

No data are available on:

  • mammography screening rates
  • cervical cancer screening rates

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has occasionally been documented in Colombia.

Nutritional and metabolic concerns

Anaemia

There is a low risk of anaemia in adults (estimated prevalence is 5 to 20%) and a moderate risk in pre-school children (estimated prevalence is 20 to 40%), so:

  • be alert to this possibility in recently arrived migrants, particularly for women and pre-school children
  • test as clinically indicated

Vitamin D

Consider the possibility of vitamin D deficiency in people who may be at risk due to:

  • covering their body for cultural or religious reasons (lack of sunlight)
  • skin colour
  • diet (vegan or vegetarian)

Vitamin A

There may be a risk of vitamin A deficiency in Colombia.

Iodine

People from Colombia may be at risk of iodine induced hyperthyroidism due to inadequate intake.

Country profile

Health indicators and health care

WHO Global Health Observatory has a summary of health indicators and health care in Colombia.

Culture, politics and history

BBC News and The World Factbook provide background information on the culture, politics and history of Colombia.

Languages

The main language used in Colombia is:

  • Spain (official)

Source: The World Factbook

Religions

Religion Population (%)
Roman Catholic 90
Other 10

Source: The World Factbook

Migration to the UK

There were over 25,000 people from Colombia living in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Published 31 July 2014