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Ecuador “endemic” violence and discrimination

Ecuador “endemic” violence and discrimination are major public health issues, says UN human rights expert

GENEVA / QUITO (27 September 2019) – “Ecuador must act to advance the right to health by addressing key issues like violence and discrimination, while investing in a sustainable health system,” says visiting UN Special Rapporteur Dainius Pūras.

“Ecuador is in a good position to reach the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, but key elements need to be in place. Non-discrimination and participation in the healthcare system and beyond must become a reality,” said Pūras, the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, presenting his preliminary observations at the end of his 10-day visit.

“Violence against women and girls is endemic in Ecuador and remains one of the major public health threats. All violence must be addressed with determination and courage.

“I deeply regret that during my mission, the National Assembly voted not to decriminalise abortion in cases of rape. This decision is against human rights and modern public health principles and will only expose more impoverished girls and women to early pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal mortality. I strongly encourage the authorities to veto this decision and promote legislation that complies with human rights standards,” the Special Rapporteur said.

The Special Rapporteur commended a number of positive developments but also pointed to remaining challenges. He noted positively that the constitution guaranteed the right to health and that there had been significant investments in the health system infrastructure. He also called for a responsible legislative debate on the health code and the urgent adoption of a text complying with international human rights law.

Pūras noted that women and girls, children and adolescents, members of LGBTI communities, people living with HIV/AIDS, and people on the move still faced specific challenges in realising their right to health. Indigenous peoples and Afro-Ecuadorian communities showed worse health indicators than the rest of the country.

Pūras stressed that investment in health care should continue to focus on making sure there was an available, accessible, acceptable and high-quality service for all, even in times of financial constraints.

“Budget cuts reported to me can be detrimental to the effectiveness and sustainability of the progress achieved so far and can add an additional strain to an already overburdened system,” warned Pūras.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a full report to the Human Rights Council in June 2020 on the main findings of his visit.


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