Letter to the President, from the Diocese of Quibodó Commission for Life, Justice, and Peace

Source: The Commission for Life, Justice, and Peace, The Diocese of Quibodó
(Translated by Colin Kluender, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Quibdó, February 5 of 2016

President of the Republic of Colombia

Mr. President:

The Dioceses of Quibdó, Istmina-Tadó and Apartadó, and the Social and Ethnic-Territorial Organizations of the Department of Chocó offer forth our warm and respectful greeting.

We turn to you to denounce the critical health situation faced by the state, with hope of obtaining a positive response to our request. We must begin by saying that, to an equal extent in rural and urban areas, there are clear signs that bring to light the grave situation created by the health problems of this region, some of which we have outlined as follows:

  1. There is no network of hospitals that relies on basic infrastructure to guarantee adequate public health service, as diagnosed by the Office of the Ombudsman in the Defense Resolution 064 of 2014.  Chocó, a state with nearly 500,000 inhabitants, does not have a Third Level hospital, and the Hospital San Francisco, the only secondary hospital in the City of Quibdó, is in deplorable condition with regards to infrastructure and equipment. In other municipalities of the state, and especially in the countryside, the situation is even worse. Where health centers do exist, they are for the most part dramatically deteriorated and therefore have a very limited ability to provide even moderately decent service.
  2. Medical staffing for a long time has been completely insufficient, suffering from a very low rate of specialists, which means that scheduling an appointment with a specialist can become a grand ordeal. Furthermore, there are no effective healthcare plans for the handicapped, elderly, children, indigenous communities, Afro-coombians, or Mestizos, who live scattered throughout the Chocó territory, including the most isolated areas. The health brigades that are occasionally established do not follow a systematic and periodic plan, although it would give them some degree of efficiency, as demonstrated in March of 2015, in the follow-up hearing of Sentence T-760 of 2008, that found the conditions of health to be unconstitutional.
  3. The high indices of morbidity and infant mortality, with respect to other regions of the country, speak for themselves with regard to their deficient healthcare.
  4. The EPS and the IPS, for the most part, provide poor service to their users.
  5. The intervention of the National Health System has not managed to alleviate the system crisis in our department in the least; on the contrary, there are reasons to believe that the problems of public health in Chocó have been exacerbated in a permanent manner.

This summarized information perhaps fails to fully describe the intensity of the trauma experienced by the residents in this region of Colombia; however, we consider it an appropriate synthesis to make the following requests:

  1. We demand that the National Government assume responsibility to guarantee the Chocó population’s right to health, putting in action the health model with a differential approach proposed by the social and ethnic-territorial organizations, in such a way that the goal is to solve the problems outlined here as well as those that have a dismal historical performance in our state.
  2. We demand the immediate construction and endowment of a Third Level hospital for the State of Chocó.
  3. We call upon the authorities of control, especially the National Health Authority, to implement all the necessary mechanisms and measures to guarantee the protection of the right to health for all inhabitants of Chocó. And we demand that the institutions responsible for healthcare fulfill their obligations as service providers with both responsibility and rapidity.
  4. It is absolutely necessary that the inhabitants of Chocó have access to the public services provided by the aqueduct and sewage system, as the enormous deficiency in this area causes numerous health problems.
  5. We ask for an audience with your Presidential Office in order to more widely expand upon that which is laid out in the document.

As all other manners of petition have been exhausted, as they are able to be exercised through civil and legal actions, we turn now to you, Mr. President, with hope of finding an immediate solution to this outcry that unifies the entirety of the Chocó population: a population that, for a long while, has been tremendously distressed and occasionally suffocated by these deplorable health conditions.

We appreciate your attention, Mr. President, and we have confidence that we will receive an answer that will allow us regain the hope to continue believing that we too are Colombia.


+Juan Carlos Barreto Barreto
Dioceses of Quibdó                                                              

+Julio Hernando García Peláez
Dioceses of Istmina -Tadó                                                        

+Hugo Alberto Torres Marín
Dioceses of Apartadó                                           

Richard Moreno Rodríguez
Chocó Interethnic Solidarity Forum   

Luis Fernando Sarco Moña
Indigenous Affairs of Chocó


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