I had the honor of representing Ecuador at the International Migration Review Forum Dialogue Series hosted by the United Nations Network on Migration. Ecuador participated in the panel discussion alongside with other Member State representatives from countries such as Portugal, Morocco, Kenya and Thailand.
This event offered an open and inclusive space where Member States discussed approaches towards achieving effective, principled migration governance for the benefit of all. These deliberations were designed to assist Member States and other relevant stakeholders to prepare for the Forum’s roundtables and policy debate.
The Covid-19 pandemic has signified strong challenges and lessons for the whole world, and Ecuador has not been the exception. In Ecuador the first case of COVID-19 was reported Ecuador on February 29th, 2020, and given the imminent presence of SARS-CoV-2 and its possible effects on the Ecuadorian population, the Emergency state throughout the National Health System was declared on March 11th, 2020
Ecuador is a country of both destination and transit for migrants. The situation generated by the pandemic has contributed to the deterioration of the quality of life, particularly regarding migrants. The lack of livelihoods, impoverishment, precariousness and the lack of opportunities for insertion in the labor market; as well as restrictions on access to basic services, have been some of the main effects that the pandemic has left to migrants.
Ecuador was severely affected by the Covid-19; however, we have managed to deal with the pandemic thanks to our successful vaccination plan. It has been a historical process that has been based on order, dignified attention, and transparency. For this result, co-responsibility between the State and the population has been necessary. Migrants have been included in the vaccination process. In Ecuador, all people have the right to access the vaccine to prevent COVID-19, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. Our vaccination plan considered migrants, 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 national and international entities and organizations that watch over the interests of this group of people.
To Ecuador, the inclusion of migrants is very important. Therefore, on many occasions we have we have expressly stated our country’s commitment to improve the governance of migration and our will to protect the rights of migrants.
Due to 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 through economic, social, cultural, educational, and environmental policies; and governed by the principles of equity, universality, solidarity, interculturality, quality, efficiency, effectiveness, precaution, and bioethics.
Likewise, in the specific case of health, the Law of Human Mobility of Ecuador, establishes in its Article 52 that foreigners residing in Ecuador have the right to access to health systems and that there can´t be any case of denial of provision of emergency care on the basis of a person’s nationality or immigration status.
To guarantee this right, there is an express rule that states that for those users of Ecuadorian or foreign nationality who have not obtained their identity or citizenship card in Ecuador, a temporary code composed of 17 numbers will be generated as an identifier or as number of a Unique Clinical History. This provision is applied in the country’s health establishments for the care of migrants who do not have identity documents.
Regarding access to health services, at official and unofficial border crossings, attention is provided to the migrant population that arrives in the country and that requires health services.
Also, to facilitate care for 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.
Additionally, the Ministry of Health incorporates the human rights, gender and inclusion approach through the Inclusive Health Services Strategy, whose compliance is measured annually through a series of indicators that address issues like quality of the services, environment, and health, interculturality, social participation and health promotion, with emphasis on the care of vulnerable groups, as is the case of migrants.
In addition, complementary actions are carried out, such as:
-Generation of regulatory frameworks and elaboration of public policies that incorporate the variable of migration.
-Development of courses and training on human rights and health care in contexts of migration to be applied at the national level, with emphasis on border areas.
-Generation of spaces to channel the specific needs of the migrant population and its articulation with health services from the organized community. To achieve this objective, joint work is promoted in border areas with the Local Health Committees and representatives of migrant’s groups.
–Awareness activities aimed at decision makers are promoted and organized to incorporate the human mobility approach into their health strategies and actions in the territory.
-Considering the difficulty in accessing data that show the real conditions in which migrants find themselves, situational diagnosis activities are carried out in order to allow the appropriate design of public policies.
The valuable IMRF panel that has permitted me to express and ratify the commitment of the Republic of Ecuador to ensure the well-being and health of migrants.
In strict respect for human rights, we seek to become an increasingly inclusive country. To this end, one of our strategies is undoubtedly ensuring the inclusion of migrants in our Covid-19 response and recovery.