The first MedGlobal’s response in Ecuador started in 2020, providing supplies, medications and medical training in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ecuador, a country prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding, currently faces social and political instability. There are almost 500,000 Venezuelan immigrants and refugees in Ecuador, which has become an important destination and transit country for these individuals. MedGlobal provides primary and specialty care to vulnerable Venezuelans and host communities.
Response in Ecuador
MedGlobal’s work in Ecuador began in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. Guayaquil, Ecuador’s most populous city of over 2.7 million inhabitants. The city quickly became the epicenter of the outbreak in Ecuador, and thousands died in the early months of the pandemic. MedGlobal supported a local organization serving Venezuelan migrants and refugees facing food insecurity and loss of jobs. According to UNHCR, by 2022, Ecuador hosts 502,200 Venezuelans migrants and refugees, being 70% in an irregular status which limits them the access to health care, education and job opportunities. A total of 1,857 people are recognized as refugees. The migration crisis in Ecuador includes the influx of migrants and refugees to the country and the migration of nationals aiming to reach the United States going through Darien Gap.
Ecuador, a country located in the northwest area of South America, is currently under a social and political instability. Higher rates of violence including homicides have been reported throughout the country. Poor prison conditions, including overcrowding, contributed to a string of gang-related mass killings.
Reporting a limited economic growth compared to neighboring countries Ecuador faces a reduction in the funding allocated to social policies, infrastructure, health, and education. This crisis, aggravated by the COVID-19 demonstrated the economic dependence on oil exports and high rates of informal unemployment which aggravated the social and economic burden during and after the pandemic.
Ecuador geography also contributes to its proneness to natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding. The Nino Phenomenon is a current threat to the vulnerable coastal communities in the Santa Elena province.
Having a population of 17.3 million habitants, it is estimated that 40% of its rural population lives below the poverty line and 62% of children under 1 year old suffer from anemia. Ecuador has been reported to have the highest rate of children with chronic malnutrition, just below Guatemala.
To address the health needs of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Ecuador and vulnerable Ecuadorian host communities, MedGlobal established a program in Ecuador. The Centro de Atencion al Migrante (CAM) provide primary care services including children and adults’ consultations and nutritional services to serve vulnerable Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
The Santa Elena province is one of the most vulnerable in Ecuador. Most of the territory corresponds to rural areas and most of the population work as fishermen or in agriculture. Most of the population holds rural social security which reflects the limited health resources available to this community. To address the needs of vulnerable communities in the Santa Elena province in Ecuador, one of the most vulnerable provinces in the country, MedGlobal conducted a Resiliency Medical Mission to serve the most vulnerable.