Located in South America, the country of Ecuador is culturally diverse, comprising of approximately 17.6 million people. As of 2017, an estimated 8.7% of the total population lives in poverty. Despite some of the impoverished conditions, most people do have access to healthcare in Ecuador. The major cities in particular, such as Cuenca, Quito and Guayaquil, have excellent medical care. From top-notch facilities to highly skilled doctors, Ecuador earns its spot as having the 20th most efficient healthcare system in the world.
Prominent Diseases in Ecuador
The most common diseases found in Ecuador are Hepatitis A, Typhoid Fever and Dengue Fever. Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver which can lead to liver failure. It can be caused by contaminated food and water. Impoverished Ecuadorians are at the most risk of contracting Hepatitis A. They do not have access to clean water or nutritious food. Typhoid Fever is a bacterial infection transmitted from human to human. It is caused by poor hygiene, placing impoverished Ecuadorians with a lack of proper sanitation at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Dengue Fever is a disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and causes serious bleeding, shock, high fever, skin rash and muscle pain. The disease affects the bloodstream and can be deadly. Ecuadorians living in poverty do not have access to proper preventive measures to avoid contracting diseases like Typhoid Fever and Dengue Fever.
Health Insurance in Ecuador
Health insurance in Ecuador is surprisingly inexpensive. As of 2017, has been made mandatory for all Ecuadorians under the age of 65. Compared to health insurance in the United States, Ecuador’s insurance policies are considered a bargain by many. For example, an American would pay $1,200 per month for health insurance. However, an Ecuadorian would pay 18 times less for the exact same plan, approximately paying around $70 per month for their health insurance.
The drastic difference in health insurance cost can also be seen in coverage for dependent children. Coverage for an Ecuadorian child costs only $15.69 per month. Regardless of the low expense for healthcare in Ecuador, impoverished Ecuadorians still cannot afford to pay for healthcare. Approximately 8.7% of the population of Ecuador lives on less than $3.20 per day. This is not enough to feed the family and pay for healthcare.
For all working men and women, both in the public and private sectors, the National Social Security Institute provides medical and hospital insurance. It includes clinics and dispensaries, surgical and mortgage loans, retirement pensions and support for widows and dependent children. Ecuadorians are provided services with low costs and high quality. Despite the low-cost availability of health care, the number of doctors in Ecuador is fairly low. Compared to the United States, which has a doctor to patient ratio of 5.5 to 1,000, Ecuador’s ratio is only 1.72 doctors for 1,000 persons. Like most countries, remote areas in Ecuador have less sophisticated treatment than urban areas. Health care is significantly better in urban cities, where 66% of the population lives.
A Continual Work in Progress
While advancements to healthcare in Ecuador has improved the overall well-being of the country, there is still a need for progress. Only a small portion of the total national budget is allocated to public health which has caused health conditions in rural areas to be fairly poor. As of 2008, the law that mandated universal healthcare for all has allowed more Ecuadorians to seek care if needed. This is specifically true for those in impoverished areas. A continuing shortage of medical personnel, equipment and medicine, has lowered the overall standards for medical care in Ecuador. Organizations like International Medical Aid has worked tirelessly on bringing medical supplies and services to Ecuador and its citizens, reaching additionally 5% of the total population. Mobile healthcare facilities and outreach programs have been key in improving health in Ecuador.
Still a long way to go, healthcare in Ecuador has continued to improve in the overall availability and quality of service. There have been a lot of positives, specifically in health insurance for the citizens of Ecuador. Yet, plentiful supplies and personnel remain a primary concern. Help from organizations like IMA has improved the overall conditions of healthcare in Ecuador as impoverished areas begin to see an increase in healthcare opportunities.
– Jacey Reece