Ecuador’s health care system is in ‘deplorable” condition and needs immediate attention, according to Vice President Alfredo Borrero. “The new government will begin the repairs immediately but we need the collaboration of citizens, government, and the private sector to make them work.”
Trained as a family practice physician, Borrero said the public health and IESS medical services have been hard-hit by corruption that have “stolen hundreds of millions of dollars in public resources” over the years. He cited arrests in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic last year when it was discovered that hospitals were paying huge mark-ups to private vendors for supplies. “We have suffered an epidemic of corruption that this government pledges to eradicate this criminality.”
He also cited poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water in rural areas for leading to illnesses that overload the public system. “What is the use of having beautiful hospitals when 40% of Ecuadorians don’t have clean water to drink?” he asked.
Borrero, a native of Cuenca, made his comments at a Tuesday news conference with new Minister of Health Ximena Garzón. Under a directive from President Guillermo Lasso, the two will coordinate the country’s Covid-19 vaccination program.
Later, in comments during a television interview, Borrero said that major changes must be made to properly finance the public and IESS hospitals. “During the Correa administration, money was diverted from the system for other needs and was never replaced,” he said. “This has caused a cascade of shortages in medicine, equipment and personnel and it is the people of Ecuador who have suffered. We must restore the financial health of the system.”
He added that the new government must work directly with local governments to build and upgrade water and sewage systems in remote areas. “There have been significant improvements made to the sanitation infrastructure in larger cities and towns in recent years but the countryside has been neglected,” he says. “We must provide the resources and know-how to these areas if we want to improve the country’s health.”