Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Roberta Baer, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jaime Corvin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Whiteford, Ph.D.


reintegration, transitional justice, health policy, human rights


Through the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF), the Colombian government aims to provide comprehensive reintegration for children demobilized from the country’s various armed groups. The reestablishment of rights, including the right to health (guaranteed by the Colombian constitution), is a key factor in successful reintegration. This thesis explores the topic of access to health care and health seeking behavior among former child soldiers in Manizales, Colombia who are over the age of 18 and were previously in the Hogar Tutor program (foster care-based youth reintegration) in Manizales. This thesis utilizes semi-structured interviews (n=9) and body mapping (n=9) with former child soldiers, key-informant interviews, participant observation, and a review of archival and secondary sources, including survey data, which is used to complement this research. This research is focused on understanding the barriers participants are experiencing in accessing health care, how participants understand and experience health and the health care system, and how health is handled within reintegration programs. Findings illustrate the incompatibility of transitional justice and the right to health within a neoliberal health system. This research suggests that former child soldiers face significant barriers in access to health care, experience persistent health conditions related to the conflict, and may be insufficiently aware of their rights as both citizens and victims of the armed conflict. These challenges likely affect the ability of former child soldiers to successfully reintegrate. This thesis provides recommendations for future research, as well as for the implementation of- and changes to- health education efforts within the ICBF and the Colombia Agency for Reintegration (ACR).