Health Volunteer Projects Ecuador
In the 1990s, Ecuador suffered an economic crisis which led to an increase in poverty that has yet to be overcome. With poverty, comes poor health and malnutrition.
In terms of health, the previous governments reduced public funding for medical services. Families, unable to afford the expense of health care on their own, are routinely forced to forego necessary medical treatment. In addition, families in transition, those moving from what was once sustainable farm land to a dependency on urban employment, have undergone a change in diet. Traditional foods have been replaced by commercialized fast food and junk food, which has led to additional health problems including an increase in obesity and diabetes. Lack of access to health care and malnutrition coupled with other health care concerns such as hepatitis A, typhoid fever and malaria certainly add to the immediacy of the situation.
Unfortunately, Ecuador has a high level of maternal death. The causes are many: anemia during pregnancy, analphabetism, poor economic resources of the family, domestic violence, limited information on sex, limited exposure to programs on education, lack of communication, and economic, geographic, social and cultural restrictions to accessing quality services.
Over recent years there has been an improvement in health conditions of our Ecuadorian population. However, there are still high rates of neonatal mortality (infant, child, maternal and general), as well as deficiencies in infrastructure, equipment and human resources, as well as budgetary constraints. It should be noted that good quality healthcare is not available to everyone in Ecuador. People, especially in rural areas, have to go travel great distances in order to receive medical treatment.
Volunteers working in Ecuador can certainly bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the situation and in return benefit from their direct experience working with the neediest of populations.