The Covid-19 pandemic has meant strong challenges and lessons for the whole world, and Ecuador has been no exception. In Ecuador, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Ecuador on February 29, 2020, and given the imminent presence of SARS-CoV-2 and its possible effects on the Ecuadorian population, the state of emergency in the entire National Health System was declared on March 11, 2020
Ecuador is both a destination and a transit country for migrants. The situation generated by the pandemic has contributed to the deterioration of the quality of life, especially with regard to migrants. The lack of means of subsistence, impoverishment, precariousness and the lack of opportunities for integration into the labor market; as well as restrictions on access to basic services, have been some of the main effects that the pandemic has left on migrants.
Ecuador has been severely affected by COVID19; however, we managed to cope with the pandemic thanks to our successful vaccination plan. It is a historical process based on order, dignified attention and transparency. For this result, co-responsibility between the State and the population was necessary. Migrants were included in the vaccination process. In Ecuador, all people have the right to access the vaccine to prevent COVID-19, regardless of nationality or immigration status. Our vaccination plan has taken migrants into account, mainly in the border areas through which they enter or leave the country. In this sense, the guidelines established by the Ministry of Health have been communicated in a timely manner to the national and international entities and organizations that look after the interests of this group of people.
For Ecuador, the inclusion of migrants is very important. This is why, on numerous occasions, we have expressly affirmed our country’s commitment to improving the governance of migration and our desire to protect the rights of migrants. Due to the social conditions, barriers, limitations and restrictions faced by migrants, the Ecuadorian authorities have generated different initiatives to expand the coverage of protection services and access to universal, public and free health for them. Our Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, in its articles 11 and 32, establishes health as a fundamental right that must be guaranteed by economic, social, cultural, educational and environmental policies. Moreover, it must be governed by the principles of equity, universality, solidarity, interculturality, quality, efficiency, effectiveness, precaution and bioethics.
Likewise, in the specific case of health, Ecuador’s Human Mobility Law establishes in its article 52 that foreigners residing in Ecuador have the right to access health systems and that there can be no have no cases of denial of provision of emergency care based on a person’s nationality or immigration status. To guarantee this right, there is an express rule that states that for users of Ecuadorian or foreign nationality who have not obtained their identity card or citizenship in Ecuador, a temporary code consisting of 17 digits will be generated as an identifier or as a single clinical history number. This provision is applied in the country’s health establishments for the care of migrants without identity papers.
Regarding access to health services, official and unofficial border crossings, attention is given to the migrant population arriving in the country and in need of health services. Also, to facilitate the care of people in human mobility, we coordinate with other state agencies and with international cooperation to articulate initiatives and actions that benefit migrants and their inclusion. In addition, the Ministry of Health integrates the approach of human rights, gender and inclusion through the strategy of inclusive health services, the compliance of which is measured annually through a series of indicators. which deal with issues such as the quality of services, the environment and health, interculturality, social participation. and health promotion, emphasizing the care of vulnerable groups, such as migrants.
The commitment of the Republic of Ecuador to ensure the well-being and health of migrants is very important. In strict respect for human rights, Ecuador seeks to become an increasingly inclusive country. To this end, one of the effective strategies is undoubtedly to ensure the inclusion of migrants in our COVID-19 response and recovery.