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Government shuts down ‘illegal’ medical clinics, investigates some foreign health practitioners

Four medical clinics have been closed in Cuenca for lack of operating permits, unqualified staff and poor sanitation. In addition, the Agency for Quality Assurance for Medical Services (Acess) said it is conducting investigations of several area health care practitioners, including foreigners, who may be operating without proper education and licensing.

A medical clinic was closed Tuesday in Cuenca.

“We have received an increasing number of public complaints about medical staff who claim to be doctors or other health care professionals who do not have recognized graduate degrees or who are not licensed to practice in Ecuador,” says Bolívar González, Acess regional sanctioning director.

González added that his office is stepping up its investigations and enforcement operations in Cuenca and Southern Ecuador due to “unauthorized and sometimes dangerous” health practices being promoted primarily on the internet.

Gustavo Guamán, a Cuenca general practitioner, applauds Acess’ new strategy. “In recent years we are seeing a great deal of advertising on websites and social media for dubious medical and alternative health procedures and some of the health practitioners who advertise are not properly licensed and a few are fake doctors.” One of the clinics closed by Acess offered plastic and reconstructive but did not have a licensed doctor on staff.

He added that the local medical community is also concerned about experimental and alternative health care practices that have not been scientifically validated. “Acess has agreed to look into some of these cases since their purpose is protecting the public,” Guamán said.

An Acess staff member said investigations have been opened into the practices of seven foreign health practitioners. “We are early in the investigation and are looking at education and licensing credentials as well as health claims made by the practitioners,” he said. “Among those under investigation are two Chinese, one Korean and four U.S. citizens, all legal residents of Ecuador.”

Guamán urges the public to report suspicious health care and alternative health care practitioners in the Cuenca area through the Acess website, www.calidadsalud.gob.ec