Health in Ecuador
The current structure of the Ecuadorian public health care system dates back to 1967. The Ministry of the Public Health (Ministerio de Salud Publica del Ecuador) is the responsible entity of the regulation and creation of the public health policies and health care plans. The “Minister of Public Health” is appointed directly by the President of the republic. His current "ministro", or Ecuadorian general surgeon, is Dr. David Chiriboga, a specialist and investigator in communitarian medicine
The philosophy of the Ministry of Public Health is to give social support and services to the most vulnerable populations and its main plan of action lies around communitarian health and preventive medicine.
The Ecuadorian public health care system permits patients to be attended daily in public general hospitals, with no previous appointment, by general practitioners and specialists in the “Consulta Externa” (External Consultation). This is done using the four basic specialties of pediatric medicine, gynecology, clinical medicine, and surgery. Specialty hospitals are also part of the public health care system to target chronic diseases or a particular group of the population. For instance, there are ontological hospitals to treat the cancer patients, children's hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, gynecologic and maternity hospitals, geriatric hospitals, ophthalmologic hospitals and gastroenterological hospitals, among others.
Although fully equipped general hospitals are found in the major cities or capitals of the provinces, there are basic hospitals in the smaller towns and canton cities for family care consultation and treatment in pediatrics, gynecology, clinical medicine, and surgery.
Community health care centers (Centros de Salud), or day hospitals, are found inside metropolitan areas of cities and in rural areas. These day hospitals give care to patients whose hospitalization is less than 24 hours. Most of the rural communities in Ecuador have a sizable population of indigenous people; the doctors assigned to those communities, called also “rural doctors," are in charge of small clinics to meet the needs of these patients in the same fashion as the day hospitals in the major cities. The care given in rural hospitals must respect the culture of the community.
The MSP provides health services to 30 percent of the Ecuadorian population. The Social Security Institute covers 18 percent of the population. Two percent is covered by the Armed Forces. NGO's (Non Governmental Organizations) cover about five percent. Private services cover 20 percent.
Number of inhabitants per doctor: 980
1830s: Surveys in urban areas show a range of 5 to 108 infant deaths per 1000 live births, whereas those in urban areas vary from 90 to 200.
1867: Alejo Lascano Bahamonde founds the Faculty of Medicine in Guayaquil, the first faculty of medicine in the city.
1950s: Intestinal ailments and respiratory diseases (including bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and pneumonia) cause roughly 3/4 of all infant deaths.
1959: The Ecuadorian government conducts a national survey to determine conclusions about the malnutrition rates in Ecuador.
1960s: More limited studies about malnutrition rates are conducted.
late 1960s: 40% of preschool children show some degree of malnutrition. 30% of children under 12 years of age are malnourished and 15% are anemic.
late 1980s: Childhood mortality decreases to .9%
1991: Health officials in Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile banned entry of uncooked food from Peru, particularly fish, which reduced the spread of many diseases in Ecuador.
2010: Dengue hemorrhagic fever epidemic in Ecuador.
General Health of Ecuadorians
Life expectancy at birth: 78 years
Childhood Mortality (per 1000 live births): 24
Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1000 population): 206/123
There are many prevalent diseases in Ecuador, mainly due to environmental conditions, geographical location, and lack of health care. Specific health problems that are common in Ecuador: infant mortality, acute respiratory infection, diarrhetic diseases, dengue fever, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, health problems due to smoking, malnutrition. In Ecuador, there are approximately 14000 cases of TB per year. The HIV prevalence rate among persons aged 15–49 is 0.3%. Stunting from chronic malnutrition affects 26% of children under 5. There are approximately 686 malaria cases per 100,000 people.
Health has a high correlation with economic status in Ecuador. Private health care is often much more efficient, and can only be afforded by the rich.
Afro-Ecuadorian children and Indigenous children are more likely to grow up in poverty and, as a result, face medical problems. Rates of chronic malnutrition are worse for indigenous children.
Ecuador is divided into 4 regions; The Andes, The Amazon Basin, The Coast and The Galapagos Islands. Harsh climates in each region pose a number of threats to human health. Due to the lack of oxygen in the Andes because of high altitude, altitude sickness may arise. It is mostly tourists coming from low-altitude regions that are affected by altitude sickness.
The amazon's many species do pose threats to human health. Diseases like malaria and yellow fever can be transferred to humans by infected mosquitoes. Deforestation in the Amazon causes an increase in the number of cases of malaria, because deforestation creates more breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Access to clean drinking water is also an issue in Ecuador. Water borne diseases like cholera can be transferred to humans through frequently drinking water that is not cleaned and filtered. Not treating wastewater and not having proper sewer systems pose the same threats. 21.9% of households in Ecuador do not have access to clean drinking water. 5% of wastewater is treated. 48% of households have sewer systems.
There are high amounts of air pollution in Ecuador. This can result in air-born illnesses and respiratory problems.
- Lrrea, Julio. “25 Años de Vida Institucional”, Imprenta del Ministerio de Salud Publica, Quito 2008.
- History of the Ministry of Public Health
- Ministro de Salud Publica Dr. David Chiriboga
- Program of the Ministry of Public Health - Ecuador
- Public health care network - Ministry of Public Health - Ecuador